The corona virus - when workers who are temporary laid-off return to work
The gradual reopening of society that is happening these days means that for more employers it is appropriate to call laid-off employees back to work. In this regard, there are some factors employers should be aware of.
When does the temporary layoff period end?
In some cases, a date has been set in advance for when the employee will return to work. If so, the employee is obliged to attend work at the appointed date. If such a date is not set, the employee must be notified within a reasonable time that he or she will be returning to work. There are no formal requirements for such a recall, and this can therefore be done by e-mail, preferably in combination with a phone call.
Normally, it must be assumed that the employee has a duty to attend work within one to two days after receiving the notice. According to the National Insurance Act, a temporary laid-off worker must be a real job seeker in order to receive unemployment benefits. This means that the employee is initially obliged to work for other employers during the temporary layoff period. If the employee has entered into an agreement to work for another employer sometime in the future, the laying off-employer must normally accept that it will take a little longer before the employee can return to work.
Who should be called back to work first?
If there are several employees who have been temporary laid off, and only a few of them are to be called back to work, questions may arise as to which criteria apply to the closer selection of who will be allowed to return first. In the same way that the selection of who is to be laid off must take place according to reasonable criteria, the selection of who will be allowed to return to work must also take place in accordance with reasonable criteria. Such reasonable criteria may, for example, be the business's need for the right expertise and seniority.
Can the employer partially bring the employee back to work?
It may be appropriate to bring the employee partially back to work, so that the employee is still partially laid off. In such cases, no new layoff notice will be required, nor will a new employer period occur.
What must the employer pay special attention to when the employee returns to work?
The employer must ensure a proper working environment and is obliged to ensure that the physical and mental health of the employees is taken care of. The employer should continue to keep up to date on the health authorities' recommendations.
By virtue of the employer’s right of management, the employer may require the employees to follow infection prevention measures that are justified and proportionate. For example, the employer may introduce stricter procedures for cough- and hand hygiene. In many companies, orders for home offices and restrictions on trips abroad will also be a reasoned and effective measure to reduce the risk of infection.
For employees at risk of meeting people who are infected, the requirement for a proper working environment indicates that the employer must also provide appropriate protective equipment.