Helping employees return to work after furlough

The global pandemic has seen many new working practices become normalised. The first new practice is remote working. The days of long commutes and being glued to the office from 9-5, 5 days week, seem like many moons ago … even though it has only been 6 months. 

Another working practice that employers and employees have had to adapt to is furlough – the government’s job retention scheme. A concept unfamiliar to many of us prior to the pandemic. 

The Job retention scheme is set to carry on until October with some changes made from the 1st August. Here’s what you need to know:

  • In August, the government will pay 80% of furloughed staff wages, up to a cap of £2500 per month for the hours the employee doesn’t work.
  • In September, the government will pay 70% of wages, up to a cap of £2,187.50 per month for the hours the employee doesn’t work.
  • In October, the government will pay 60% of wages, up to a cap of £1,875 per month for the hours the employee doesn’t work.

For more information on changes to the furlough scheme, visit the Governments official website.

As the furlough scheme starts to wind down, many employers will be thinking of bringing employees back to work, either on a part-time or full-time basis. Some employees may not have worked for over four months! And even if they’ve only had a month off working, the return after furlough may be daunting. 

As employers, it is your role to ensure the return to work after furlough is as smooth as possible.

Here are some tips on bringing back employees after furlough: 

1. Notice 

There is no official time period set by the government by which you should give furloughed staff notice that their furlough period is ending. However, to ease the process and to ensure employees are prepared, provide employees with adequate notice that their furlough period is coming to an end and a confirmation of when you expect them to return. This will ensure they can manage childcare arrangements etc. 

2. Update on the business 

Depending on the nature of your business, send furloughed staff an update of any changes to staffing, roles, and new business. This will mean they feel more in the loop on their return from furlough.

3. Outline new protocol 

Clearly outline new social distancing protocol and changes to the office environment to make the workplace as safe as possible. 

4. To-do list 

On the employees first week of work, it may be useful to write a to-do tick list. This will really aid staff getting stuck into tasks straight away and act as a reminder to get them back into the swing of things. 

5. Have an open conversation 

Many employees will be grateful to be brought off furlough, but anxieties about job security may still prevail. Have an open conversation, addressing any worries staff may have about the return to work and their job security. Also, address any changes and/or adjustments to their role.

6. A big welcome back! 

And last but not least – give them a huge welcome!! Perhaps put together a little welcome pack or have a small get together. Remember to check the latest government guidance first. 

These past few months have been tough for all of us. Show your employees how much you appreciate their hard work and sticking by you though this uncertain period.