As furloughed employees begin to return to work, business owners and managers need to consider both the practical and emotional aspects of returning to “normal”. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been unprecedented. After several weeks of lockdown and social distancing, some employees may be fearful of commuting or sharing an office space with other people. Others may be living with a vulnerable or high-risk individual. Here are some ideas to hopefully make the transition easier.

Communication

Managers need to talk to their team members before they return to work to understand their personal situation and to allay any concerns. The key to successfully returning furloughed employees to work is listening to them and communicating with them.

Returning to work action plan

Action plans should be put in place before furloughed employees return to work. Employees should be engaged and the management team should involve them in creating plans to get everyone back up and running in the new normal. Return to work plans should include practical aspects such as how social distancing can continue to be observed as well as logistical and operational requirements.

Employers should also check any agreements they have with trade unions or employee representatives. A formal consultation may be required.

Flexibility

Employees may not want to return to work. Maybe they are worried about catching Coronavirus or perhaps they have childcare issues. If this happens, take the time to listen to the concerns of the particular employee(s) and take reasonable steps such as offering flexible working arrangements.

You might possibly agree some temporary leave if the individual(s) are unable to work for a period of time. For instance they may be able to take some time off as holiday or unpaid leave. The employer doesn’t have to agree to this. Guidance on how to manage this type of situation is freely available on www.acas.org.uk

Returning to work after furlough is going to be a sensitive time for everyone involved. Employees are likely to be nervous. But if managers take the right steps and communicate regularly with their teams, things should go smoothly.

Finally, if you have questions or would like to chat about this more give us a call on 01332 292022. Or drop us an e-mail to advice@cedarandco.co.uk.