Have you furloughed employees? Do you want to ‘un-furlough’ them now?
Have you furloughed employees? Do you want to ‘un-furlough’ them now? – 27/04/2020
The temporary leave of absence is proving to be quite the headache for employers!
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) also known as Furlough Leave was designed by the government to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by COVID-19, providing an alternative to possible redundancies or lay-offs. Ultimately, it was designed to give employers another option allowing them to place employees on a temporary leave of absence.
- Government funded grant
- Employees allocated as furloughed would remain on payroll and receive up to 80% of their wages to a cap of £2,500 per month
- A minimum period of three weeks with the potential of further three months
A lack of clarity and the absence of a clear established process has left many employers perplexed as to how they can correctly un-furlough employees.
Our recommended process for un-furloughing employees:
1.Create an ‘un-furlough strategy’
When considering un-furloughing employees, it is important to consider what main principles would apply for this process. For example, it is well established that employers must be fair and objective during the selection criteria for who is selected for layoff or redundancy.
It stands to reason that the same principles should apply to un-furloughing employees. To ensure that the process of un-furloughing employees is fair and objective, it’s important to establish a clear ‘un-furlough strategy’. Once this is established; this should be clearly communicated to employees to avoid ambiguity.
2.Establish a selection criterion for un-furloughing employees
Typically, employers will have evaluated the operational requirements for each role when deciding what employees were allocated for Furlough Leave.
This process should be used when considering what employees to un-furlough by creating a skills and experience grid for each area of the business and grading employees based on this.
This could be the most effective way to decide who to un-furlough and if it is carried out correctly, will avoid bias.
Once it is established what employees are to be un-furloughed, it is important to communicate this to the employee. This should be communicated in writing, highlighting the specific date the employee is to return to work and the measures that have been put in place to ensure your duty of care as an employer and the wellbeing of your employees.
This communication should also include an invitation to employees to make contact if they want to express an opinion on the decision to un-furlough them, or not to un-furlough them.
What if an employee doesn’t want to return to work?
The scenario may arise where an employer wants a employee to return to work, but the employee doesn’t want to. Employers should reassure their employees that the correct measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19).
In some situations, alternatives may need to be considered however this would be at the discretion of the employer.
Can an employee refuse to return to work?
In accordance with government regulations, there are reasons when an employee’s circumstances will override the employer’s decision to get an employee back to work, such as:
- An employee has caring responsibilities e.g. a child at home with no-one else to look after them and no ability to place the child into school/nursery
- An employee obtained a letter from the NHS requiring them to shield for 12 weeks
- An employee develops symptoms and is isolating in accordance with guidance
This is an unprecedented time for organisations. It is important to remain aware of all issues and updates with government guidance regarding measures to protect your workforce.