Number of furloughed construction workers on the rise

There has been a significant rise in the number of workers furloughed in the construction sector this year, with 244,100 people on furlough at the end of January.

Number of furloughed construction workers on the rise

With the furlough scheme now extended until September, new HMRC data shows a 25% increase in headcount for furloughed construction employees. In comparison to the 195,100 furloughed in December 2020, the third national lockdown has meant a steep increase in figures for the construction industry.

The data, analysed by employment lawyers at Richard Nelson LLP, found over one-third (39%) of construction employers used the furlough scheme in January 2021, up from 33% in December last year.

When comparing the construction sector to other industries, Richard Nelson LLP found the percentage of furloughed employees in the construction industry has increased more than both the manufacturing and transport sectors this year.


December 2020

January 2021










Wholesale and retail




Transportation and storage




Commenting on the research, Jayne Harrison, head of employment law at Richard Nelson LLP, said: “The construction industry has been advised by the government to continue operating as normal, with the necessary COVID-secure measures in place. For workers who cannot return to their job role or who are not currently needed because of reduced demand, the furlough scheme has kept them employed and meant they are not adding to rising unemployment in the UK.

“We are expecting for the furlough scheme to be extended today with the announcement of the chancellor’s budget. For construction firms, this will help to ease the anxiety and uncertainty over the next few months and allow for companies to plan better for the future. We predict that as lockdown continues to ease, these figures will begin to decline as more workers are needed back in at their posts.”

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