Business Best Practices

Bringing Your Staff Out of Unemployment and Back to Work

Jul 2, 2020

Getting Back To Work

With a record number of people on unemployment and record-setting generosity in unemployment benefits, it can be hard to get people to come off unemployment and get back to work. Until the end of July, those on unemployment not only receive their regular unemployment payment, but an additional $600/week. With a large portion of people on unemployment making more than they would at their jobs, employers are scrambling to find people that are willing to work. For people who are highly susceptible, returning to work can be a very high-risk decision. In fact, workers in some states may be allowed to refuse to return to work under certain conditions.


Daycare Concerns

Lack of childcare has been a major contributor keeping people from returning or allowing working people to take advantage of benefits afforded to them by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provides eligibility for paid time off for people with no childcare. In states where day cares are reopening, there are businesses making deals for discounted rates on daycare services for their employees, or just outright helping their employees pay for their children to go to daycare.


Employer Options

When it comes to bringing your workforce out of unemployment and back to work, there are a couple of options. Firstly, offer remote work where possible. This is probably the best option, considering employees don’t have to have childcare or leave their house to do their jobs. This is best option if your goal is retention. Another option is to leverage your employees’ access to health insurance. Furloughed employees (temporarily laid-off employees) typically still receive health insurance. If an employee refuses to return to work because they are making more on unemployment and they lose their paid insurance, their extra unemployment benefits will be eaten up by their insurance premiums. In this case, they may start to make less on unemployment than they would by returning to work. Lastly, and what I consider to be the next best for retention of skilled employees, some employers have been utilizing their PPP money to give their employees raises, closing the gap between their salaries and their unemployment benefits, making them want to come back to work. While this may not be ideal or available to everyone, it may be a safer last resort than other options.


Although business owners are faced with numerous obstacles on a daily basis, there are still plenty of options available to get your people back to work during these trying times. It is important to remember as an employer that this is a stressful time for everyone and that people may have several legitimate reasons for not returning to work. Even if employees are able to come back to work, the mental challenge alone should be taken into consideration on an individual basis.


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