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Re-entering the workforce after furlough: What to expect when you’re expected back at work

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On 11 May, the government announced its COVID-19 recovery strategy, detailing a phased approach to reopening businesses gradually and safely. 

The government urges many industries to continue to have staff working from home wherever possible. However, this is not possible in all sectors. Retail and hospitality are two examples where businesses rely on their team being on the premises during operating hours. From the beginning of August, employers will have the option to bring back some of their furloughed staff on a part-time basis. 

If you work in an industry that has reopened and is starting to bring staff back from furlough, this article will give you tips on what to expect when you re-enter the workforce.

How will you be asked back to work?

Under government guidance, it is required for your employer to give you at least 48 hours' notice that you are needed back at your place of work. 

Your workplace is going to look different.

Your place of work will likely look much different to how it did before you went on furlough. To comply with social distancing measures, shops, bars, restaurants, and hotels will now have specific new rules on how they can operate. You may find that there are now barriers between tables. You will likely have long queues waiting to enter the premises, and there will undoubtedly be many signs directing customers on how they should behave once inside. 

Your duties may change.

It won't be uncommon for staff duties to change to comply with new regulations. For example, if you work in a pub, you will need to take your customers' orders at their table rather than allowing service at the bar. There will be staff required to monitor the queues and outdoor areas. There may also be more restrictions on movement between different departments to reduce contact. Being open to reskilling and adaptable to changes will be beneficial once you go back to work. 

Health and Safety will be crucial.

Health and safety regulations will be in place to ensure that you and your customers' health is not in jeopardy. You may be asked to undergo a temperature check at the start of your shift, and you may be required to wear a mask to protect both yourself and your customers. Hand sanitising and washing will be extremely important as will the hygiene levels in bathrooms, kitchens, and any preparation areas. You will be required to keep clean areas that are touched frequently, including counters and tills. Areas used by customers will need to be cleaned between each use, for example, cleaning tables, card machines, chairs, trays, and laminated menus before customer use. 

Ensure that you are well informed of what cleaning and hygiene tasks you will need to do once you return to work. You can learn more about the government's guidance here

Your customers may act differently.

Don't forget that many of your customers will be returning to normality after weeks of isolation and may act differently than they did before lockdown. They may be uncertain about how to behave or be confused by changes. They may be anxious to be around so many people. It is vital to keep them informed and feeling safe during their visit to your establishment. 

Your work hours may change.

You may find that your hours of work change. You may only be asked to return to work on a part-time basis for the time being. Or you may find that your shift patterns are different to help cover the new tasks that will arise from regulations. These changes are affecting many workers, so don't feel that you are singled out. Speak to your employer about any concerns you may have about your hours. 

If you are worried that you may not get the same shifts you are used to after you return from furlough, register with us today to become part of our bank of flexible staff and pick up additional shifts in new workplaces to supplement your income.