Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the furlough support scheme to the end of October and announced that staff will be allowed to work part-time from August onwards.
He moved to make the popular scheme more flexible while also cutting the ballooning cost to taxpayers.
Employers will be expected to pay a share of the cost from August but will get the benefit of a part-time workforce if they need it in the summer.
He revealed the number of people furloughed has grown to a staggering 7.5 million
Mr Sunak told the Commons: “Full details will follow by the end of May, but I want to assure people today of one thing that won’t change.
“Workers will through the combined efforts of Government and employers continue to receive the same level of overall support as they do now at 80% of their current salary up to £2,500 a month.
“I’m extending the scheme because I won’t give up on the people who rely on it.
“Our message today is simple: we stood behind Britain’s workers and businesses as we came into this crisis, and we will stand behind them as we come through the other side.”