How to recall employees after a furlough
If your state is allowing businesses to reopen, and you’re ready to notify your employees that your workplace will soon be up and running, we’ve got two things to say. First of all, congratulations — this has been a hard time, and rehiring your employees is cause for celebration! However, there are a few steps to take as you recall your furloughed workers. In addition to our free recall letter template below, we’ve got answers to some key questions to make sure you get everything right.
When should I notify workers that we want to recall them?
In a furlough, workers are generally given unpaid leave with an expectation they’ll return at a later date or when work is available. Now that the time is here, you’ll want to give them some notice. We recommend that employers send all returning workers a letter or email at least one week before you expect them to report — and ask employees to verify via email or your employee portal that they will return on the date you need them.
This schedule should give them time to plan for childcare, commuting, and other necessities before they get back to the workplace. Many employees may find that their care centers remain closed or transit routes may be reduced, so some flexibility on expectations may be needed.
What if we don’t need every employee back right away?
Many businesses will have some employees who can continue to work from home effectively, while others will need to be on-site to get the job done. If you require that only some employees return, be sure to treat everyone with a similar job function the same way. And if there are any exceptions, be sure to document them. And that includes offering ADA exceptions for employees in protected classes.
What if some workers choose not to return?
Some workers may opt not to come back for a variety of reasons including concerns about exposure to the virus, finding other employment, or needing to care for a family member at home. Be flexible where you can, and be mindful that the current situation requires navigating an unknown for everyone.
If your employees have been working remotely during the pandemic, it’s possible that some who haven’t needed to use emergency family and medical leave provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will now need it. Remember, if they have been told to quarantine by their doctor, have a sick family member, or their children’s daycare center is closed, they may be entitled to paid leave under the FFCRA.
So, take time before the recall to ensure you understand your obligations under the FFCRA and other federal laws mandating leave for employees who need to take it.
If you’ve made a good faith effort to rehire a worker, but that employee can’t or won’t come back,it’s a good idea to create a paper trail for your employee files — especially if you’ll be applying for PPP loan forgiveness and need to track your headcount. Specifically, you should look to document:
- Your written offer to rehire the employee or return them to work (or restore reduced hours)
- That the offer was rejected by the employee (ideally also in writing or via email), and
- That you have informed your state unemployment insurance office within 30 days that the employee has rejected your offer of reemployment
Do I need to complete new hire paperwork for returning workers?
If your employees were never separated from employment, that is, if it was a furlough and not a layoff, you should not need to complete new hire paperwork including a new I-9. In this case, documenting the furlough dates for their personnel file is sufficient. Significant changes, such as a new job title or pay rate, should be documented as well.
However, in some jurisdictions, a lengthy unpaid furlough may be seen as a separation from employment. Check with your local and state governments to see what they allow, what paperwork you need to plan for, and what documentation employees will need to bring on their first day back.
If it’s been months since your furloughed employees have worked, you may have the option to rerun background checks or request pre-employment drug testing — if your local jurisdiction allows. You should also check with your industry standards to see what is recommended or required.
Return to work notification template for employers
Here’s a template to use to prepare your letter or email to notify all returning workers.
If you have questions about how to maintain a healthy workplace, our infographic lays out the advice from the CDC. We’ve also created a return-to-work checklist and a guide to what you can ask your employees about their health that may help as you open back up. Or check out this video that answers even more questions about re-opening your business. We wish you every success as you get your business up and running again!
For more information about how to manage your payroll, HR, and benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak, please take a look at our COVID-19 Resource Center.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors for formal consultation.