As workplaces begin to reopen across the province, some employers will prepare to bring workers that they have been laid off back to work. This can be a challenging transition and layered with emotion. Follow the 5 steps below to recall employees who have been laid off back to work.
Note that as of June 1, 2020, the Government of Ontario has made a new regulation under the Employment Standards Act, 2000, that any non-unionized employees that were on lay off are all now considered to now be on the “Infectious Disease Emergency Leave”. For employers this means that the 13- and 35-week windows for recall no longer apply. Employers will have a 6 week window beyond the date the state of emergency is lifted in Ontario to either recall, terminate or put on lay off (if lay-off is the decision, the lay off starts as a new lay off, as the current period they are off, is no longer considered a lay off).
1. Stay in Touch While Employees are Laid Off
Provide frequent updates to employees who have been laid off. Transparent communication can help ease employee’s anxiety while they are away from work. It will also help the employee continue to feel connected to the workplace. This sentiment of engagement can encourage employee motivation and morale upon their return to work.
2. Provide Ample Notice of Return to Work
Consult your employment contracts, collective agreement and layoff paperwork prior to providing employees notice of return to work. These documents may stipulate how much notice you need to provide to an employee before they are required to return. In the absence of a contractual obligation, provide employees with as much notice as a possible. This will allow them to make personal arrangements such as childcare or transportation arrangements to ensure that they are able to return to work.
3. Order of Recalling Employees
The Employment Standards Act, 2000 does not layout a process that you must follow to recall employees, so you have flexibility to determine a process that makes the most sense for your business. Create a fair, systematic plan to determine who will return when. In addition to the jobs that they perform, consider recalling employees who are on the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) first to ensure that the JHSC can fulfill their health and safety role in maintaining a safe work environment.
4. Re-train Employees who have Been Laid Off
It is likely that workflows and standard operating procedures have changed while employees were laid off. Provide training to employees prior to their return through Zoom calls or pre-recorded videos. Ensure that employees have been trained in new health and safety procedures and that they have signed off on the training.
5. Be Mindful of Optics
As you make business decisions, think through how your actions will be perceived through the eyes of those employees who were laid off. For instance, how the business manages their balance sheet will be under extra scrutiny. Craft messaging around corporate spending and other major policy decisions to be honest yet reassuring to employees about the future trajectory of the company.
Are you looking for more resources to help you manage through COVID-19? We have many resources to help you bring your employees back to work safey:
- Return to Work Phase Template
- Visitor COVID-19 Health Screen
- COVID-19 Health and Safety Risk Assessment
Contact the experts at Essential HR to help transition your employees back to work after layoff.