Around 8 million employees have been furloughed during lockdown measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in the UK. But as the British government relaxes some of the measures and businesses begin to go about finding a sense of something close to normal, lots of employees will be returning in the coming weeks.
The Job Retention Scheme runs until October 2020 with employees expected to make growing contributions from August until the scheme closes. But for businesses ready to bring back their employees, just how do you go about ending furlough and bringing them back on board?
We’ve got the answers to common questions right here.
How do I end employee furlough?
The concept of furloughing staff is relatively new in the UK. So there’s not much by way of a precedent. However, much as with beginning furlough, it’s advisable to notify staff in writing of your decision to end furlough and bring them back into the workplace.
You should let them know:
- When their period of furlough ends
- The date you expect them back in work or to be working from home if staff are currently on work from home
- Confirmation that this means their pay will return to 100%
- A reminder about remaining holiday availability
- An invitation for them to raise questions of concerns with your or the most relevant person in your business (HR or similar)
How much notice do I have to give to end furlough?
There’s no set correct answer here. It’s reasonable to give people as much notice as possible. But equally, lockdown measures are an incredibly fast changing situation.
As soon as you know, let them know. And if there’s an issue with your plans to end furlough, allow the employee to raise this directly.
Can I end furlough for shielding employees?
You can end furlough for them technically, yes. And if your employees are able to work from home, this is likely to be a relatively straightforward process. But if you’re expecting your employees to return to your place of work when their furlough ends, then there’s a potential issue with shielding employees. They’ve been asked by the Government to shield until 1st August 2020. So asking them to return to a place of work before them is a request for them to directly breach Government issued medical advice.
Your employees could, if you end furlough, be left requiring sick leave.
When considering who to bring back off furlough and when, consider shielding employees carefully. It’s ideal to be able to leave those who have to be at home until as late as possible if they cannot work from home.
But ultimately, as an employer, you should support members of your team in following the guidance.
If you’re not sure about the best approach to ending furlough for your employees, seek expert HR advice from a qualified consultant.