April 27th, 2020

HR News

Welcome Back: How to Recall Furloughed Employees

Over the next few weeks, government ordinances related to COVID-19 will slowly begin to lift nationwide. Hopefully, this means your practice will be able to start getting back to something resembling “normal”, and you can start recalling your furloughed employees.

Here is a brief overview of how to conduct the recall process:

  1. Create your recall list. Some practices will be able to bring back all of their furloughed employees at the same time, but most practices will need to bring back furloughed employees in phases. If you are staggering the return of furloughed employees, you will need to choose a selection process for who you will bring back first. Just like when you started this process, you will want to ensure that your selection process is non-biased and consistent. Common selection processes would be:
  • first furloughed is the first to come back,
  • selected based off seniority with the practice, and
  • selected based on skillset.
  • Recall furloughed employees. OK, so you have your list together and now it’s time to recall them. Prepare your recall letter for each individual you will be recalling prior to contacting them. We have attached an example recall letter here for your reference.

Essentially when an employee is furloughed from a business, they are put on an unpaid leave from the practice, so just like any leave you will want to communicate key pieces to the employee in the recall letter, including:

  • an employment offer
  • a return to work date
  • terms of employment
  • any consistencies and changes in their role
  • benefits status
  • changes in policies and procedures since their furlough

We suggest first reaching out to the employee via phone when recalling them, and then following up with an email that has the recall offer letter attached for the employee to sign.

  • Put the employee back on the schedule. Once you have the employee’s signed recall letter of acceptance, it’s time to put the employee back on the schedule. Ensure that their manager is scheduled to meet with them the first hour of their shift to review the practice’s new safety protocols and any new policies and procedures that have been implemented during their leave. This would also be a good time for the employee to read any handbook addendums you may have created and have them sign these documents for their personnel file.
  • Schedule a time to check in with them during their first week. There are still many unknowns and uncertainties during this pandemic, so getting back to work may feel very weird for some. Be sure to make it a point for the employee’s supervisor to check in with each recalled employee and see how they are doing reacclimating to daily practice life.

What if my employee doesn’t want to come back yet or is still concerned about their safety?

It is understandable that some employees are not going to want to come back due to safety and/or health concerns. We suggest you speak with these individuals about their concerns and review with them the safety protocols that management has put into place. If the employee has exhausted all federal and state leaves available to them, including their federal leave time (FFCRA), it will be up to management as to whether they will approve for the employee to continue staying out on unpaid leave.

It is important to note that some states, like New Jersey, have put some guidelines in place as to how to handle employees who have refused to come back to work due to fear of gathering and choosing to self- distance. It is always important to keep in mind that if you approve unpaid leave for this one person, it should be an option for anyone else who has the same concerns and requests continued leave.

Finally, it’s important that management ensure all communication regarding furlough recalls is well documented in each employee’s personnel file.