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What happens after furlough?

The furlough scheme introduced during the 2020 lockdown was a lifeline to thousands of businesses and employees. But what is the process for re-introducing staff to the workplace as the furlough scheme comes to an end and employees get their feet firmly under their desks once again.

To help you stay up-to-date with all the latest guidance, here is a FAQ on what happens after furlough.

How much notice do I need to provide when reboarding furloughed staff?

If you’re bringing furloughed staff back on board, you will need to give them notice in writing. There is no statutory minimum notice period, but you should begin discussions with furloughed staff as soon as you’re able, to allow plenty of time for them to make adjustments to return to work.

These discussions should also include an opportunity for them to raise questions and concerns, and to talk through the practicalities of returning to work.

What is flexible furlough?

The flexible furlough scheme came into place at the beginning of July, and allows furloughed employees to return to work part time. Their employer is responsible for paying their wages for hours worked, and can claim the remaining part of their salary under the furlough scheme.

For example, if an employee is contracted for 30 hours per week, they could return from furlough and work 15 hours per week, and receive their full pay for these hours. They would remain ‘on furlough’ for the remaining 15 hours per week and receive 80% of their pay for these hours.

This can be a very beneficial option if your business is operating on reduced turnover due to the COVID lockdown, but there’s still plenty of work to do.

There are some conditions and things to consider. Download our free in-depth guide to find out all the details.

What will change in the workplace?

Regulations are constantly being updated in line with the latest scientific advice. It’s important that returning staff are given all the relevant information about changes already made to the work environment, and those planned for the coming weeks.

Be mindful of social distancing requirements and other health regulations. Of course, every organisation will be dealing with different changes, both in the way they work in person and virtually. Make sure you keep teams on board with all developments.

How do we adapt to the ‘new normal’?

As with any change at work, clear two-way communication with your team is vital in adapting to the ‘new normal’. Unlike those employees who have been working at home during this time, furloughed staff may face a steep learning curve as they adapt to remote meetings, Zoom calls, shared cloud drives and other tools the rest of us now take for granted.

Make time to listen and respond to concerns and requests for help. Make sure that any specific training you offered to staff who’ve been working remotely is also available to those returning from furlough.

If you’re welcoming employees back into a physical environment, ensure that it is safe for their return, thoroughly risk assessed, and that they have the training they require.

How do I create a level playing field for all employees?

It’s possible for tensions to arise when bringing together a team which combines furloughed staff with those who have been working throughout the lockdown.

As well as making space to hear and respond to employees, it’s vital to maintain clear, positive communication with all staff, to embrace approaches to engage your staff, and to keep a focus on the ‘big picture’ vision to motivate teams.

What next?

Get the full lowdown on how your business can thrive post-furlough, download our free pdf guide.

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