16 Sep Bringing your employees back to work
We have found ourselves in circumstances which none of us expected nor could have imagined this time last year.
Before March 2020, many people had not heard of Furlough and; the thought of a national lockdown was inconceivable. However, businesses have had to incredibly agile and adapt to an ever-changing set of circumstances. Now the end is in sight. Businesses are looking to the future and bringing employees back to the office, whether they have been furloughed or working from home.
But what steps do you need to take to bring employees back to work safely?
9.6 Million people have been furloughed through the government’s job retention scheme since March 2020.
During a recent episode of the East Anglia Business Webinar series Jessica Piper, Solicitor at Astons Legal outlined the steps you need to take to bring back full-time employees. Firstly, you need to write to furloughed employees, “you need to tell them what to expect and confirm that their employment will continue on the pre-furlough terms and conditions”. This communication also needs to cover off the date and time they are to return to work.
Additionally, this is also your opportunity as an employer to “tell them what remuneration they can expect if necessary. Be mindful that if you are looking to vary wages for a temporary period, then that is a variation of contract exercise can be problematic. So be careful and take advice if you are looking to do something like that” added Piper.
Furthermore, you will need to inform returning employees of any procedural changes in line with government and industry guidance. You may need to arrange some additional training.
As with full-time employees, you should be clear with the employee what hours they will be required to work. You will also have to be clear about which hours they will remain furloughed. You must explain what they will be paid for the hours they work; if you want to affect a pay cut over the “worked” hours, this should be dealt with separately.
If they consent, the agreement must be in writing and, a copy of the agreement must be kept for five years.
Similarly, to full-time and flexibly-furloughed employees, you need to communicate clearly and in writing about the circumstances of their return.
Inform employees of any changes to how they will carry out their work in line with government and industry guidance. This communication could outline the use of personal protective equipment, different opening hours, staggered attendance in the office and spacing out of desks. Employees may also need additional training to confirm they understand what is expected of them.
Now lockdown has lifted, many organisations are looking to bring their employees back to work but, they need to do this safely, whilst balancing cash-flow and employee wellbeing.
Hear more about HR and employment law updates from Hayley Murfitt, Lucy Pakes and Jessica Piper on our recent webinar: