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Recalling Furloughed Employees: How Ready Are You?

When recalling furloughed employees, it is crucial that you adhere to your organization’s policies and procedures. Basing a decision on pre-established guidelines can help avoid violating any anti-discrimination laws.
Whatever your specific recall procedure is, be sure to implement each step with complete transparency. Any furloughed employee who is not recalled will be anxious to know why.

Choosing who returns to work

The longer a business is required to remain non-operational, the greater the need to terminate some positions. This task involves carefully considering which jobs can’t be retained and determining whether other positions are available as an alternative for laid-off employees.

Performance-based recall

One common approach is to rehire based on performance. To navigate this properly, make sure that your decisions are based on documented performance reviews from prior review periods, preferably with numerical components (e.g., like number of successfully resolved issues).

Rehiring according to business needs

A more prudent approach is to adopt a uniform practice, using business judgment regarding the essential needs of your organization. Run any reports necessary that will help you accurately determine which departments or teams are crucial to the current operations.

Sending out recall letters

There are no specific or legal requirements regarding when and how to send out a recall letter. Just make sure your workers are notified of the recall even if they are not expected to return in the immediate future.

Generally, the recall letter should provide at least a week’s notice and include a date by which the employee is required to decide whether they intend to return to work.


The letter should also indicate the following:

  • Updates regarding the safety measures implemented to ensure workers’ safety against COVID-19
  • Information concerning the terms of workers’ return

Employers may also convey the following:

  • Return-to-work date
  • Time and location where the employee should report
  • Job title after recall
  • Exemption status

For nonexempt employees 

  • Expected work hours and a reminder on tracking all hours worked
  • Pay rate/salary
  • Schedule of payment
  • Eligibility for vacation and vacation accrual policy
  • Any remaining bank of accrued time off

Feeling a little frazzled over your to-do list to get your organization fully up and running?

Offload your HR and payroll tasks to experts who will have your back. Payroll Systems offers paperless employee onboarding of new employees, paperless benefit enrollment, timekeeping systems with companion mobile app, physical clocks, and customized job costing and labor distribution reporting.

Let’s talk about getting you back on track.

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This article provides general information and shouldn’t be construed as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws may change over time and can vary by location and industry, please consult a lawyer or HR expert for advice specific to your business. You can also contact Payroll Systems to inquire about our HR support services.