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Are you ready to “unfulough”?

The time will come when employees on furlough status will need to be “unfurloughed” as businesses adapt to working post coronavirus lockdown.

At the moment, there is no formal guidance or process in place for taking employees off furlough, however, we encourage you to follow a fair process similar to how you decided to furlough in the first place.

In an ideal world, you would bring everyone back into the business together, however that is probably not going to be the case as we know businesses have been affected by loss of sales, trade etc. Therefore, a staggered approach is likely to be required.

The main selection for bringing employees back into the business will be driven by operational needs and consideration of employees needs.

As we know, the minimum period for a furlough claim is 3 weeks, therefore some employers will not want to bring furlough employees back into the business if less than 3 weeks furlough has occurred. This makes sense, however, it could mean that the employees with the skills needed will not be back into the business as soon as possible.

Operational needs will be the driver, but please be flexible where possible and consider employees personal circumstances too. Some employees may prefer to continue to be furloughed to help with childcare, other may prefer to work to support their wellbeing.

If you have a choice, why not speak to everyone involved and get their input before making your decision. Would a rotation of employees be possible?

If you are still left with a choice, then use a comparison matrix similar to a redundancy matrix to determine and support your decision. This will also support you against any discrimination claims.

Even though there is no formal requirement in place yet, you should confirm in writing the decision to end the furlough status. The letter should also include if the employee is returning to the workplace or working from home, with guidance on how you will support the employee in both scenarios.

It is worth noting that social distancing is expected to be a requirement for workplaces in the immediate future. Therefore, adjustments will probably be needed, and reassurance of these adjustments should be communicated to all of your team.

If you need support with bringing employees back into the business and suitable adjustments, or any other HR support, please email for a non-obligation quote.


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