Furloughs were a stark reality in the spring of 2020. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the number topped at more than 18 million.
But things have turned around. Disneyland is a high-profile case in point. They have brought back three-fifths of their workforce, and continue to rehire furloughed and laid off cast members. In fact, 2,500 former Disneyland employees have returned to work in the month of July 2021 alone as they, and many other organizations, look to rebuild their workforce.
Has your organization experienced furloughs and layoffs? Are you looking to rehire talent this year? Whether you are recalling thousands or a handful of workers, you’ll need to consider the following:
Choosing who to recall
Your company may only be able to bring back a percentage of out-of-work employees or may choose to stagger recalls like Disneyland. To avoid complications and disputes, it’s important to first define your criteria for which workers you’ll invite back, and in what order.
Keep personal matters out of your decision-making process. Be cautious about basing your decisions on subjective factors like performance unless you can cite documented and quantiﬁed performance metrics from past reviews. Making assumptions about who you think might like to rejoin the team and work remotely, or prioritizing workers who appear healthier and less vulnerable, could culminate in a discrimination lawsuit down the road.
Instead, develop an objective recall policy that takes into account factors like seniority and job function. Some state and local governments (including New York City, Connecticut, and Philadelphia) require employers to recall laid off employees before hiring anyone else. And these employees must be recalled in order of seniority. This does not apply to all businesses, so be sure to consult the labor laws governing your region.
Communicating recalls to work
As soon as you’ve reached a decision, inform each potential rehire as soon as possible and at least one week in advance of the start date. By communicating early and often, you can increase retention rates. Workers left in the dark may well start seeking employment opportunities elsewhere.
While you may wish to connect over a phone call or video meeting, be sure to follow up in writing with an official recall letter.
Refreshing hiring paperwork
When inviting furloughed and laid-off employees back, you may need to renew their onboarding paperwork. In general, although furloughed workers are still technically considered employees, it’s advisable to issue fresh paperwork for staff members who have been furloughed for six months or more.
For employees who have been laid off with the expectation of recall, follow your recall policy while easing them back into the workplace. From an administrative perspective, staff members who were formally terminated during layoffs will need to be processed as new hires.
Conducting background checks
In most cases, you won’t need to issue additional background checks or drug screenings when recalling laid-off and furloughed workers. But if it’s required for compliance reasons at your company, be sure to approach this step in a lawful and transparent way.
Prior to conducting background checks, ensure that you have employee authorization. Even if the language in your initial authorization agreement covers subsequent background checks, it’s courteous — and required in some states — to inform recalled employees that this is part of your process.
If you will be running drug screenings or background checks after the start date, make the provisional nature of the recall clear in your official letter. If you ultimately choose to terminate an employee because of unacceptable results, follow applicable laws and regulations when doing so.
Creating a return-to-work policy
Before your recalled worker steps in the door, your entire workforce should be briefed on your company’s return to work policy.
Develop a comprehensive plan that answers questions and offers guidance including family and medical leave, sick leave and other benefits; new health and safety precautions; telecommuting policies and related tech and safety procedures; and processes for how employees can voice concerns to request accommodations.
Our technology can help streamline the process of reboarding recalled employees. When an employee is removed from payroll, Balance Point’s HCM solution provides the option to maintain the history record of the employee’s previous employment with your company and the termination date.
When it’s time for the employee to be reboarded, the fields will populate with the employee’s prior information for them to review and resubmit.
Schedule a consultation to learn more how we can support your efforts to restore your workforce.