With the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme acting as a lifeline for both businesses and employees alike, it is no surprise that people are concerned as an end to the support is quickly approaching. Unless we see a sudden and last-minute change, the Government is withdrawing its furlough support at the end of September. So, is your business ready?

Consider whether you need to make redundancies

Each business has had its own challenges throughout the pandemic and some have been hit harder than others. Furlough came at a perfect time for businesses which would have otherwise lost their employees. However, the challenge isn’t over. The 1.9 million employees who are still on furlough will have to be taken off the scheme on 30 September 2021. This leaves a decision for employers to either bring their staff back (if they can) or make them redundant. 

Make sure you are communicating with furloughed employees

Whether you are bringing people back or making redundancies, communication is going to be your greatest tool over the next couple of weeks. Employees returning to the office will need information on what to expect, timelines for their return and updates on how their day-to-day may have changed. While for those employees losing their jobs, you must make your decision clear to them and kickstart the redundancy process.

Address any employee concerns

Employers will need to consider how best to integrate staff who have been on furlough leave back into the workplace, some of whom may be anxious about a return after such a long period. They will need to make sure employees have been informed that a COVID-19 risk assessment has been undertaken and informed of measures put in place to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infections in the workplace. Doing this will hopefully go a long way to allaying any concerns furloughed staff have about returning.

Plan additional training and reskilling for returning employees

As furlough started in March 2020, some employees may have been out of the workplace for over 18 months. It is understandable that they will be feeling somewhat apprehensive and anxious about returning. To help ease them back into work, we recommend that you offer them additional training on their roles to help them hit the ground running. Additionally, for those employees who may be facing somewhat of a role change rather than redundancy – they will undoubtedly benefit from some upskilling in their new area.

Determine if hybrid working is right for returning employees

As previously furloughed employees begin to return, you need to assess whether they will be coming back to the office or working remotely. A few points to consider when coming to that decision are:

  • Has remote working been successful?
  • How is your business currently operating?
  • What does the returning employee prefer?

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, please click here.