With various shelter in place restrictions being lifted and companies starting to get back to business, one of the questions we’ve received is: how do we bring furloughed employees back to work?
As always, documentation is going to be key here. So, you should put the conditions of the recall in a letter, similar to the way you would document the conditions of an initial job offer.
Your recall letter should include these details. You’ll want to document Job title, supervisor, overview of responsibilities or job description, monthly salary or hourly wage, employment classification, and you’ll also want an employment at will statement.
Except for employers in Montana, it is important to include a statement saying that you’re not guaranteeing employment for any period of time, and that the employee or the company can end the relationship at any point.
You also should include a deadline by which the employee needs to respond. You should ask them to accept or decline by this date. And it is important to make clear that if you don’t receive a response by this due date, that you will have considered them to have turned down your offer to return to work and the company will end their employment. This deadline is important. It can help reduce risk if you end up having to terminate someone who doesn’t respond and it can also help document that a worker has turned down work, so that if necessary, you can provide this documentation to the appropriate state unemployment department.
Consider highlighting if any of the employment details that you’ve outlined are significantly different than before. Things like wages or classification, or even supervisor information. If there are things that have changed, add a little bit of context. Tell them that you’ve reduced hours across the board, or that you’ve consolidated your management structure. Provide
a little bit of extra information to help them put things into perspective.
You will also want to think about outlining the safety measures you are taking in light of COVID-19. This helps to document that you are taking steps to make the workplace safe, and it can help make employees feel more comfortable about returning to work.
Lastly, an important part of your communications to your employees, both in your recall letter and frequently thereafter, should be to encourage your employees to contact you if they have any concerns about their personal safety or if they’re in need of assistance in returning to work. Not only does this boost morale, but it encourages employees to reach out to you and it opens to the door to anyone who has a legitimate concern due to a health reason. Maybe they’re in a high-ri
sk category, or they have an underlying health condition, or they’re immunocompromised in some way. This will help them to start a dialogue with you regarding any reasonable accommodations they might need.