When the furlough scheme ends on 31 October, business owners will need to make some tough decisions about what comes next.
We’ve compiled a checklist of suggested next steps for getting your business back up and running after the furlough scheme ends. The checklist includes the legal requirements for bringing staff back and how to approach redundancies if you need to reduce your workforce.
Review your cash flow forecasts
- Work out whether you can realistically pay salaries when your staff members are brought back. Look at your cash flow, reserves and forecasted revenue, which might include a best case and worst case scenario
- If your forecast suggests your business can’t sustain bringing all your employees back, there are a number of options you can take:
- Reduce staff hours by using the government’s Job Support Scheme, which is designed to protect viable jobs in businesses facing lower demand due to coronavirus. Learn more about the scheme in our FAQs.
- Ask workers to take a temporary pay cut (you still need to pay at least the National Minimum Living Wage)
- Look for volunteers to take unpaid leave for a specific period of time
- Cut your workforce – see the below section on making redundancies where necessary
Bringing staff back from furlough
- Give staff returning from furlough a reasonable amount of notice if possible. You’ll need to confirm the requirement to return to work in writing, either through a letter or email
- Clearly outline any safety precautions or processes you’ve put in place that employees should be aware of
- Bear in mind that people might need training to get up to speed with new systems or tools, like communication apps for remote workers
- Don’t forget the psychological impact of the crisis. Many staff members will have experienced anxiety, social isolation and concerns about health and money over the furlough period. Check in with returning staff frequently to provide support and discuss any concerns they might have
- Use quick pulse surveys regularly to get near real-time feedback on how people are feeling
Make redundancies when necessary
- If you’re in a position where you need to make redundancies, take time to plan out conversations with employees. The last thing you want is to rush the process
- Consult an HR or employment law expert to check you’re following the correct procedure and avoid potential claims for unfair dismissal
- A lot of business owners have been forced to make redundancies during the crisis. Talk to peers about their experiences and how best to proceed. You can also read about how other business leaders handled coronavirus-related redundancies here.
- Decide how to deliver the news. It’s best to do it face to face, but you might be limited by social distancing restrictions
- Think about questions you’re likely to get asked and prepare answers in advance
- Be clear, concise and honest. Your employee might have sensed it was coming, but it will still be a shock
- Calculate employees’ entitlement to statutory redundancy pay. The government has a useful tool to do this
- Update your remaining staff and answer any questions they have. Redundancies naturally make people worry about their own job security, so do your best to alleviate any concerns
- If appropriate, consider what introductions and support you can provide in helping them find new employment