Employer Considerations for an HR Return to Work Policy

2 min read
Fri, May 08, 2020

Employer Considerations for an HR Return to Work Policy

As state economies are reopening as shelter-in-place orders are lifted, employers may have questions related to rehiring and on-boarding employees after a layoff. There are benefits in bringing back employees who were furloughed or laid off.  The employee already knows the business. HR can expect reduced on-boarding and on the job training, and company culture is already established.

Proper procedures, however, should still be followed that are consistent with company policy. 

Here are HR and legal recommended practices for your employees returning to work.

Review Current Company Policies

A great place to start is for HR and hiring managers to review current company policies. This includes applications, employee handbooks, benefits enrollment, compensation, vacation policy, management expectations, and more. Employers should consider if pay will be reduced, for example, and what circumstances are needed in order to bring the employee back to their previous salary. Staff may also not be necessary at full time employment as employers may have limited work hours. 

Employers may also consider their needs for:

  • Background checks 
  • Drug screening
  • Performing I-9 checks

See also: Is it Time to Update Your Corporate Background Screening Policy?

Benefits Status Based on Separation Status

Employers must review if employees were "laid off" or "furloughed." Layoffs are considered permanent separation of employer and employee in order to reduce headcount or expenses. Furloughed employees are suspended without pay for a temporary period of time. Bringing back furloughed employees may require less paperwork than re-hiring those that were, in effect, terminated from employment. Depending on existing company policies, laid off workers may not retain their previously earned benefits. Again, employers must review current policies to see if any changes or updates need to be made. 

Free: Online Applicant Consent Portal

Running Background Checks on Returning Employees

When recalling or rehiring employees, HR managers may choose to run background checks as if the employees were newly hired. Some businesses often choose to screen employees when hiring and post-hire to obtain an updated record of employee behavior outside of work. Other businesses are required to run regular rolling background checks because of staff interactions with vulnerable populations, to remain in compliance with regulations or to minimize the risk of negligent hiring.  Drug screenings may also be a consideration when employees return to work. 

When background or drug screening employees, hiring managers must ensure they have the proper authorization to run a background check. If HR has already implemented a continuous screening policy, they may have already used evergreen language on their authorization forms. If the policy does not include the employer's desire to run background checks post-hire or if the authorization form doesn't include language that states as such, the employer must obtain new authorization and consent to run a background check. 

It is recommended that employers work with their legal counsel when addressing these policies to be protected from litigation and other return to work challenges.

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