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17 June 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are relaxed and society gradually reopens, employers may need to call laid-off employees back to work. This article answers FAQs for employers which find themselves in this situation.
When does the temporary lay-off period end?
In some cases, the date on which an employee will return to work will have been set in advance. If such a date has not been set, the employee must be notified within a reasonable period that they will be returning to work. There are no formal requirements for such a recall; therefore, this can be done by email (although preferably in combination with a phone call).
Normally, employees must attend work within one to two days of receiving a notice to return to work. Pursuant to the National Insurance Act, a temporary laid-off worker must be a real job seeker in order to receive unemployment benefits. Thus, employees are permitted to work for other employers during the temporary lay-off period. If an employee has entered into an agreement to work for another employer in the future, the original employer must normally accept that it will take longer for the employee to return to work.
Who should be called back to work first?
If several employees have been temporary laid off and only a few of them are to be called back to work, questions may arise as to who should be allowed to return first. The selection of who will be allowed to return to work must take place according to reasonable criteria (eg, the business's need for the right expertise and seniority) in the same way as the selection of who is to be laid off.
Can employers bring employees back part time?
It may be appropriate to bring an employee back to work part time (ie, the employee is still partially laid off). In such cases, no new lay-off notice is required and a new employer period will not be triggered.
What else should employers bear in mind when employees return to work?
Employers must ensure a proper working environment and protect employees' physical and mental health. Employers should continue to keep up to date with the health authorities' recommendations.
By virtue of employers' right of management, they may require employees to follow infection prevention measures that are justified and proportionate. For example, employers may introduce stricter procedures for coughing and hand washing in the workplace. In many companies, remote working and restrictions on trips abroad will also be reasoned and effective measures to reduce the risk of infection.
Pursuant to employers' duty to provide a proper working environment, employees who are at risk of meeting people with COVID-19 must be provided with appropriate protective equipment.
For further information on this topic please contact Ole Kristian Olsby at Homble Olsby | Littler by telephone (+47 23 89 75 70) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Homble Olsby | Littler website can be accessed at www.homble-olsby.no.
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