Bringing employees back to work


The furlough scheme has now ended – what are your plans for bringing employees back?

Chloe Carey, our HR specialist has some guidance for how you can approach this situation:

  1. Check correspondence issued at the start of the process to remind yourself of what was agreed.
  2. If you are not in a financial position to do so then you will need to act quickly. You could potentially look at reduced hours, different roles, or even a reorganisation where the needs of the business have changed.
  3. Hybrid working may help to reduce costs. It can also ensure that you keep and attract talented employees who may prefer to do some of their hours from home. Think about the best fit for your organisation. Consider whether you need employees on-site for business reasons or whether flexibility has benefits for everyone.
  4. You will need to give employees notice that you require them back at work. Revisit communications issued to employees at the start of furlough to determine what notice was agreed if any. Where no notice was agreed then it should be reasonable in the circumstances.
  5. Remember, any changes to contractual terms including reductions in hours and hybrid working will need employee agreement before implementation.
  6. If you need to consider redundancy, seek expert advice from an external HR advisor if you don’t have anyone in house. Ensuring you have a legal and fair process from the start will pay dividends further down the line.


What if an employee refuses to come back to work?

If an employee refuses to come back into the workplace you will need to understand their reasons and whether you are able to alleviate their concerns.

Being able to demonstrate that you have put in place the necessary measures to protect all employees and communicating clearly to everyone as to what those measures are and that you are adhering to the relevant guidance will help.

An employee who refuses to return to work will be in breach of contract but its not as clear cut as that.  The key issue relates to what is reasonable and this will be different in each case.

Seek guidance and carefully consider the consequences before taking disciplinary action. The law and the employment tribunal will be focused on the employee’s subjective perception of the dangers of Covid and a return to the workplace posing a serious threat.

Our herd has helped many businesses through the last 18 months. If you need any support to plan how your business will survive and thrive, get in touch.