Now that COVID-19 restrictions are beginning to be lifted for businesses here in New Jersey, many employers who had to lay off or furlough workers will be looking to bring them back as operations ramp up.
A challenge being faced by businesses is the reluctance of people to return to work in light of the enhanced unemployment benefits many have been receiving, in some cases more money than what they earned when previously working.
The federal government created expanded unemployment benefits under the stimulus CARES Act called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) which extended unemployment benefits an additional 13 weeks up through December 31, 2020. For those receiving unemployment benefits, the PUA also includes an additional $600 a week through July 31, 2020.
Although this federal unemployment funding has been a lifeline for many people whose jobs have been permanently eliminated, for those impacted by a furlough or temporary layoff, the additional unemployment benefits have made the decision to return to work a difficult one.
Some people have legitimate reasons for not returning to their jobs and instead continue receiving unemployment benefits and they include:
>People with genuine concerns regarding the safety of their workplace.
>Those with serious underlying health conditions and who don’t feel safe returning to work, or those whose child’s daycare facility has remained closed.
Today, I would like to focus on those people being asked to return to work and who don’t seem to have a reason not to.
If your business received funding through the Paycheck Protection Program, in order to have the funds forgiven and not rolled over into a loan, you have to use a majority (currently 60%) of those proceeds for payroll costs. If employees refuse to return to work, showing that you offered them employment should help toward full PPP loan forgiveness.
Below is a text version template of a recall letter you can send to folks you want to bring back to work. (Should you want a Word version, please reach out to me for a complimentary Word template). Edit it as you see fit. If someone refuses your offer of recall, or reemployment, notify the NJ Department of Labor so that your PPP loan forgiveness, along with your unemployment tax rate, will not be negatively impacted.
The reopening of businesses has generated many challenges for companies throughout New Jersey. Developing a recall plan that will be deemed fair by the state of NJ and the federal government is very important. Ensuring that any strategy is based on as much documented, objective criteria as possible will minimize risk to your organization, and increase good will and engagement among your employee population.
Should you be looking for advice on the handling of a recall or the development of policies geared toward addressing the challenges brought upon by COVID-19, please consider contacting Marzano Human Resources Consulting for a free consultation.
Notice of Recall
[Employee last known address]
Dear [Employee name],
I hope this notice finds you safe and well during this unprecedented time. We are pleased to announce [Company name] has begun employment recall procedures.
Our records indicate you were [furloughed/laid off] on [date] at which time we had no work available for you. You were notified your position was subject to recall should work become available and that you were to notify [Company name] for up to one year of any change of address for recall notification purposes. As of today, we have not received any such notification.
I am pleased to notify you your position of [name of position] is now available, and this is your official recall notice. Please report to work on [date] at [time] and report directly to [name of supervisor or HR department].
Your pay and benefits eligibility will [stay the same or be changed to ______________].
You must contact [name of supervisor or HR department] no later than [date] to confirm your receipt of this notice and your intention to return to work.
Should you not report to work on the day and time indicated above, we will consider that action as a refusal of recall and job abandonment.
Please do not hesitate to contact [name of contact] with any questions you may have regarding this notice. We look forward to working with you again!
[HR Dept. contact]
[Contact phone number/e-mail]