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Preparing for the end of furlough

The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – or furlough – has helped nearly 12 million workers at a cost of £66bn since it was introduced in March 2020. 19 months on, with 1.9 million employees still furloughed as the scheme approaches its end on 30 September 2021, we look at preparing for the end of furlough.

Employers have three main options as the furlough scheme comes to an end:

  • Bring employees back to work on their agreed (i.e. pre-furlough) terms and conditions of employment;
  • Terminate their employment;
  • Agree with employees any changes to terms and conditions of employment such as reduced pay or hours.

Helping employees with the furlough transition

As businesses are preparing for the end of furlough, there are four main steps to preparing your workforce for a full return to work:

  1. Inform your staff of any changes: The first thing you’ll want to do is give all your staff an official letter informing them of when they are expected to return to work. This letter will also include information such as whether they are required in the office, work from home or a combination of both.
  2. Update your payroll: The next step will be to inform your payroll team to update the system from 1st October, as you will again be the only contributor to your employees’ salaries.
  3. Think about cost savings: Consider ways of keeping costs down in the short term with things like possible pay freezes or putting a stop to any new expenditure. However, you must check your employees’ contracts because, if they are entitled to a yearly salary increase or training budget, you must get their agreement before implementing the changes.
  4. Staff communication: Staff who have been furloughed may not have been in regular contact with you, so they may have missed a lot of company updates. Make sure everyone feels comfortable about raising any concerns, questions or issues they may have about returning to work.

Furlough Scheme and Redundancies

What happens if there isn’t a job for furloughed staff to come back to? Perhaps your business is unable financially to bring back every staff member? If that’s the case, redundancies are the final option but there are strict protocols to adhere to. Find out the details in our redundancy guide.

To speak to a member of the hr inspire team today to discuss your return-to-work preparations, contact our expert HR team.

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