As the furlough scheme begins to wind down – it officially comes to an end on 31st October – many employees are starting to return to work, most on a part-time basis, after being on furlough for months.
With a quarter of the UK workforce being put on furlough at some point over the last five months, it’s likely that your workplace will have to go through the process of bringing these employees back over the next couple of months.
Some employers may have questions regarding what you do if you don’t have enough work to fulfil an employee’s contractual stipulations or if the longer-term forecast is that the business isn’t doing so well.
Utilise the part-time furlough scheme
Instead of looking at possible redundancies straight away, if you have some work but not enough to offer full time hours then you should, where possible, make use of the part-time furlough scheme which enables furloughed workers to work for a few hours a week whilst still getting financial support from the government.
This will allow you to assess your business market and establish if there is likely to be a recovery, whilst still receiving support from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Notice required for returning to work
There is no hard or fast rule regarding a notice period when asking employees to return to work, but we would always advise that reasonable notice is given to allow employees to arrange any childcare cover or to allow them to prepare for a return, especially if they have been shielding due to being in a vulnerable/critically vulnerable group.
It will also give you the opportunity to address any concerns or answer any questions relating to the Covid Risk Assessments that you have put in place as well as the PPE that may be required. This will serve to reassure your employees that you have carried out your legal duty and have their health, safety and well-being at heart.
It will also give you the opportunity to address any refusals to return to work.
If this situation does arise, then how you deal with it will depend on a few factors and we would always advise that you seek support from your HR Consultant when dealing with such matters.
Keep a continued line of communication
The most important thing you can do when an employee returns to work after being furloughed is communicate with them on a regular basis.
If you do bring them back on a part time basis under the flexible furlough scheme you should ask that they complete a weekly time-sheet which logs their activity. This could be of benefit on several fronts:
1) To ensure that you accurately record time to support your furlough claim
2) This will allow you to have a greater understanding of the work being conducted to see if you need to increase hours or reduce hours depending on the circumstance.
Additionally, you may wish to have a weekly meeting with them so that you can discuss their progress and give them the opportunity to raise any queries they may have.
The key is to ensure that your employees know you are there to support them and that they are being monitored as this will help them feel part of the team again after being away for such an extended period.
If you are in the process of bringing employees back to work after being furloughed and you need some advice or would like us to provide you with letter templates, then our HR consultants are here for you.
Additionally, if you need assistance to ensure that your workplace is Covid Secure in line with your legal duty, our Health and Safety Consultants are on hand to assist.
Call us on 0845 2626 260 to discuss what type of support your business needs!