Requesting a furloughed employee to return
As I can now reopen my workplace, I am planning to take some of my staff off furlough. How much notice do I need to give an employee to bring them back from furlough?
There is no specific time period outlined in Government guidance, meaning that, generally, the amount of notice that should be provided is what is considered reasonable depending on the circumstances. While the current Government guidance does not outline what should be considered reasonable, employers should consider providing at least one week’s notice, giving staff time to get their personal situation in order; for example, they may need this time to make arrangements for childcare. That said, if the original agreement to furlough stipulated a period of notice for employees to return, this is the period that should be provided.
Employers can ask staff to volunteer to come back in off furlough, something that may prove popular if staff have been receiving 80% of their wages. This can be a useful way of managing a situation where employers do not want their staff to all return at once. If too many volunteer, employers should then consider different processes, such as a rota system or asking staff to return part time. Alternatively, they may also need to implement a selection criteria. Any procedure put in place should be non-discriminatory.
If the employee’s terms and conditions are to change on their return, such as staggering their shifts, employers should also remember that they will need time to consult with employees, and employee representatives, in order to seek their agreement to the suggested changes. Consultation may also be needed if work practices are to change to comply with new health and safety requirements.
Remember that bringing an employee back from furlough which has not lasted for a period of three consecutive weeks means that it is not possible to claim wage costs via the Job Retention Scheme for that period.