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Getting back to business, or some version of it – recalling, rehiring and ramping back up

We have all been talking about layoffs, furloughs, reduced work schedules and other ways to cut back in response to the unexpected and fast-moving impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although there may be continued assessment of additional cuts, it is important to now start shifting our focus on what’s next. Although the full scope of it may be unknown, we need to prepare now for getting back to business and getting employees back in their jobs. Let’s talk about that strategy.

If you applied for one the loans through the CARES Act and are anticipating recalling laid off employees with the loan dollars in order to ensure that the loan forgiveness requirements are met through the Paycheck Protection Program, let’s take a minute to think this through.

What happens if all of the employees do not come back for a variety of reasons? If a former employee is making more money on unemployment, found another job, have simply changed direction all together, it’s still very important to be systematic and thorough in the strategy, plan and communication around recalling employees after a layoff or furlough. This is where we can help.

Here are some things to consider:

Will laid off employees maintain their seniority and length of service with the company if they are recalled? Do you have a policy about retaining (or not) retaining seniority after a pause in employment?

Are you prepared to recruit for new employees to fill the roles of employees that choose not to come back? Are your job descriptions and standards current and accurate to bring those employees back into those roles? Are offer letters and terms of employment clearly defined for the recalled or newly hired employees?

Employees are going to expect new workplace standards as it relates to cleanliness, co-workers being at work while sick and strategies for the potential of future major work stoppages. There will be a heightened awareness around safety and cleaning in the workforce. We recommended doing a deep clean of the office or work environment before bringing employees back in. Set standards around the communal spaces, particularly the kitchen area and any shared items such as mugs, utensils, etc. Even better, give each employee their own company branded mug so they don’t have to share.

If you moved to a remote work environment and then are transitioning back to a traditional office setting, there could be resistance, particularly if production remained constant or even increased. Let’s assess the workforce and see if there can be some flexibility and compromise moving forward with the work environment. Communication with employees during transition like these is imperative.

Are you bringing everyone back at once, do you do it incrementally based on business need or have some positions been completely eliminated? How do you determine who comes back first while ensuring the recall practice isn’t discriminatory or has an adverse impact? It is possible to consider bringing people back part time versus full time if the work isn’t there yet but be mindful of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements for your salaried exempt employees.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act with the Emergency FMLA and Emergency Paid Sick Leave is active through December 31, 2020 so as employees are brought back in, there are compliance requirements to notify those employees of their rights as well as understanding that employees may still need that support throughout the year. It is important to create an environment in which employees feel comfortable taking time off when they need it. Assess your current HR policies, particularly any paid time off and leave policies ahead of time, in preparation.

We can help strategize, implement and execute your rehire plan and ensure compliance at the same time. Employers Advantage will help you create a comprehensive strategy for the recall and prepare your HR foundation as you look forward to a return of employees, and a return to doing business.

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