The number of workers furloughed in the transport and logistics sector this year has risen significantly, with 187,600 people on furlough at the end of January, new HMRC data shows.

The figures reveal an 18% increase in headcount for furloughed transport employees, rising from 159,400 in December 2020 to 187,600 in January this year.

The research, analysed by employment lawyers at Richard Nelson, found over one-third (39%) of transport employers used the furlough scheme in January 2021, up from 335 in December last year.

Commenting on the research, Jayne Harrison, head of employment law at Richard Nelson said: “The transport 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.”

She said the extension of the furlough scheme announced in the Budget earlier this month was welcome.

“For transport and logistics 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,” she added.