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Ending furlough for your employees

With businesses across the country beginning to reopen many are wondering how to bring employees back from furlough and what they should have in place for their return. From ending furlough for your employees to the health and safety considerations you need in place for their return to work, we look at how you can safely bring your employees back to work.

Furlough in 2021

You can currently claim wages for employees on furlough through the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The scheme runs until 30 September 2021 and currently covers 80% of an employee’s usual wages up to £2,500. Find out more about claiming through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on the GOV.UK website.

From 1 July 2021 the furlough scheme and government payments will change. Employer contributions will be required with the government contributing 70% of an employee’s wages up to £2,187.50. The percentage contribution from the government will lower each month until 30 September 2021 when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends.

Employers can continue to choose to top up employees’ wages above the 80% total and £2,500 cap for the hours not worked at their own expense.

Detailed information on the upcoming changes are available to view on the Government’s website.

Ending Furlough

If you feel it is the right time to look at ending furlough for some or all of your employees, it is a simple process. As you claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme each month for those on furlough, when you bring employees back to work, you stop claiming for them or only claim for the days in that month before they returned to work.

After an unprecedented year, with virtual learning for children, redundancies, caring responsibilities and changes in circumstances, it is best to provide some notice to your employee that they are going to be returning to work. There is no law outlining what this should be but, this can help you and your employees transition back to work.

Flexible Furlough

There is an option to flexibly furlough employees, paying them for the time worked and claiming hours not worked under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This can work well for you and your employee, giving them a phased return to work after an extended period away from the workplace and can help if you plan to open your business on reduced hours.

An agreement between you and your employee must be drawn up with written agreement of hours to be worked if on flexible furlough. This gives both you and your employee the opportunity to return to work in a flexible way as you reopen your business and while certain restrictions on your operation are in place.

Health & Safety when returning to the workplace

There have been a lot of changes in day to day life over the last year with people’s safety and health. It’s important that you have suitable risk assessments completed, training in place and a robust health and safety policy ready for your employees return to work.

From physical distancing and increased cleaning to use of PPE, ensure your employees are up to date and ready to operate in a safe way for themselves, colleagues and customers.

Sector specific guidance is available on the Scottish Government website.

Health Working Lives have information on completing a risk assessment for your business and employees to help keep everyone safe. They also have support available to help your return to work.

Employee Wellbeing

The transition back to working after furlough will take a bit of time to get used to and may be a little daunting for some. Whether you decide to return to the office or workplace in person or move to working from home, it can take time for people to readjust. Some employees may have experienced the loss of a loved one, others may now be caring for a relative. It’s important to have open lines of communication and to ensure you’re regularly engaging with your team to understand how they’re feeling.

Training for managers and team members around mental health and mental wellbeing should be considered to help them develop skills needed in this area., Understanding that the last year has affected everyone differently is key.

Have open discussions with your employees about whether working from home would suit your business and employees. Perhaps a hybrid method of splitting time between the office and home would be suitable? Do your employees feel comfortable coming back into the office? Would productivity benefit from home working? By opening the lines of communication you may be surprised by the outcome!

Remember, “if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business.” Richard Branson

Helpful advice on supporting your employee’s wellbeing is available from Health Working Lives.

Business Gateway Midlothian Support

For further support, advice and guidance on furlough, ending furlough, employee wellbeing and getting back to business get in touch with Business Gateway Midlothian today.

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