Returning Employees from Furlough

Advice on communicating with employees about their return to work and helping them get back up to speed.

The current expectation is that Furlough will now be extended beyond the end of April, and we will know for certain after the Chancellor’s Budget on 3rd March. Whatever is announced then, we know that the Furlough scheme will be ending at some stage and that many businesses will now be starting to think about how to transition furloughed employees back to work. In this article, our insolvency practitioners are grateful to Heidi Skirrow, an HR specialist from Absolute Works in Dorset, for giving some invaluable advice on how businesses can help employees returning from furlough get back up to speed.

Heidi Skirrow Gives the Following Advice

insolvency practitioners
Heidi Skirrow from Absolute Works

Are there notice periods and processes that need to be followed?

“Although there is no specific notice period or process to follow within the Government guidelines for advising staff they will return from Furlough, it’s important for any employer to check whether they agreed a notice period with their employees.”

“In any case, clear communication is key when bringing staff back, even more so if you don’t plan to bring everyone back.  Be aware of any potential unfairness or discrimination in selecting who returns verses who doesn’t as this could result in claims against the company.”

What about pre-furlough working hours?

It may be that some employers can’t bring staff back on their pre-furlough working hours or patterns so they’ll need to think about how they will reach agreement with the affected employees regarding any changes.”

Good communication is essential

It’s safe to say, that where employers have been communicating well with their employees, helping them understand the challenges the Company has been, and is, facing and managed their expectations accordingly, that employees are likely to be more receptive to the conversation. Many people will accept fewer hours as an alternative to redundancy, especially in the current climate.

It’s worth employers being clear in their communications regarding the role the employee is returning to, especially if there have been any changes.”

What happens when an employee cannot be contacted?

In circumstances where an employee can’t be reached despite several attempts using various methods and they fail to return to work, it may be that the employer will be able to categorise this as unauthorised absence. After a period of reasonable time to respond, the employer could move to dismiss.”

What about the transition back to work?

For many the transition back into work will be a welcome relief but for some the transition may be more difficult. There will be many emotions at play, including nervousness about change and working with clients again, reduced confidence having been away from work for a prolonged period, sadness at leaving time spent with loved ones and even personal problems which may have been exacerbated by the pandemic.”

“With that in mind, the need for communication to be consistent, open and clear is absolutely vital, as is ensuring support is put in place for those returning.  This could be in the form of Employee Assistance Programmes, buddy or mentor arrangements, frequent one to ones, daily team ‘stand up’ meetings, informal calls or desk/floor walks.”

“Employers making it their business to make themselves aware of how their employees are feeling is paramount to prevent problems later down the line.”

Helping Businesses Turnaround and Recover as Lockdown Eases is Key

Hundreds of thousands of businesses, especially small businesses in specialist retail, entertainment, hospitality and services, have been hit very hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. The road back is likely to be long and hard, and that includes the implications for employees coming back after furlough. Heidi’s advice is, therefore, extremely helpful. She can be contacted direct at:

Our Insolvency Practitioners are here to help

As Insolvency Practitioners, our team wants to help as many businesses as possible restructure, turnaround and recover from the effects of Covid-19. If you run a business that is in financial stress, the sooner you talk to us the more we can do to help. In over 40% of cases insolvency practitioners help insolvent businesses avoid liquidation, putting them on the path to recovery.

Contact us for a free initial discussion at any of our offices: