Students at Birmingham City University regularly employed to work on campus events and other duties have requested they be furloughed from the Manpower Agency under the Government’s Job Retention Scheme.
Campuses were closed in March in line with lockdown rulings and student’s jobs were put on hold until official guidance allows for restrictions to be eased.
Government guidelines allow for agency workers to be furloughed under the Job Retention Scheme as detailed on its official website.
Students often rely on part time work to pay rent and bills and the loss of income can have a significant impact on many students.
Discussions have been ongoing between Birmingham City University Students’ Union, Birmingham City University and employment agency Manpower since April but a resolution has not been found.
Many students have been without the expected income for over 10 weeks.
Birmingham City University Students’ Union believes that students who worked regularly for the Manpower agency during the academic year 2019/20 had expected to continue assignments and therefore should be furloughed under the government’s scheme, with pay backdate to March when campuses were closed.
Ivona Hadzhiyska BCUSU President 2019/20 says “I’ve had lots of students ask me why Manpower have not furloughed them, when other people have been furloughed from their jobs and paid under the Job Retention Scheme. Many are without the work they were expecting and experiencing hardship as a result; exactly what the scheme was designed to address. I continue to urge Manpower to do the right thing by their staff and our students.”
The University has supported discussions and provided Manpower with a list of people who had been regular agency workers undertaking assignments up to the point in March that all campuses were closed.
It is believed they were all people who would have been expected to recommence their assignments once the lockdown period ended, and previous activities started to resume.
Manpower continue to defend their position stating that they have interpreted the scheme appropriately and that assignments are still available for employees. BCUSU is in contact with individuals who have not been assigned any work during the lockdown period.
Various MPs have been contacted by individuals and BCUSU is in continued contact with Manpower representatives.