Using Timesheets to Manage Furloughed Staff Upon Their Return to Work

In the wake of the global pandemic, many organizations around the world chose to put their employees on furlough to rein in costs. However, employers must now be ready to tackle the challenges of calculating time and pay as furloughed employees return to work after COVID. Using timesheets to manage furloughed staff members can aid in the transition back to active payroll employees. First, here are a few things to consider as you bring back employees and set up timesheets for their return.

Reinstating Furloughed Employees

A furlough is a temporary but mandatory suspension from work. Normally, a furloughed employee does not receive any pay, but they are still kept their employer’s payroll and are still entitled to employment benefits, such as health insurance. Therefore, you may be thinking that all you need to get your furloughed employees on board again is a phone call.

Unfortunately, things are not so simple. Due to the pandemic, there have been several changes to the way organizations go about their business. Even your employees might feel anxious or uncertain about returning to work. Having a proper plan in place to reintegrate your furloughed employees can go a long way in alleviating concerns while streamlining your re-onboarding process.

The first thing you must clarify is the work expectations. Will your employees retain the same job and way of working? Will they return to the same hours/shifts of work as they had pre-pandemic? What about their wages/salaries? If there are changes, will those changes be temporary or permanent? What are the new protocols they must follow to ensure safety? These are all questions that need to be answered even before you start inviting employees back in and using timesheets again.

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Do You Have to Restore Salaries?

There is no easy answer to this question as it varies among employee types, regions, and organizational policies. If the organization already had a furlough agreement in place, they will have to honor that agreement, which usually means they must pay the same salaries.

For at-will employees or employees without collective bargaining agreements or contracts, the organization is generally not legally bound to restore their former salaries. However, they must ensure that the employees still get paid the minimum wage specified in that region. Pay fluctuations for the sake of evading salary basis requirements are illegal as well.

It is also important to note that furloughed employees are well within their rights to refuse to rejoin and seek other opportunities if they feel that your proposed salary/wage is lower than their expectations. Employees are also free to ask for more hours or more pay before rejoining.

Whatever be your decision, it is important that you communicate it in writing. In effect, you will be sending them a whole new employment letter. Documentation of all details is vital. Keeping track of all these new details can be challenging if relying on manual methods. Upgrading your time and pay processes by choosing a timesheet software like Replicon can make this process smooth.

Do You Have to Restore Benefits?

Yes. As mentioned above, furloughed employees are entitled to employment benefits. These must be reinstated as soon as the employee returns to work. Paid time off is a different challenge. Some regions have laws that mandate that accrued PTO is also reinstated when the furloughed employee comes back.

Using Timesheet Software When Furloughed Employees Return

As furloughed employees return to work, it is the perfect opportunity for organizations to upgrade to timesheet software considering the difficulties they will face.

In some cases, furloughed employees might be rejoining with differing hour and pay agreements. In other cases, employees may have had to endure pay cuts or a reduction in hours. Some organizations even had to rehire full-time employees as part-timers. These are massive changes and pose an enormous administration challenge. Paper or spreadsheets cannot accurately handle the complexity of the new time and pay requirements created as furloughed employees return to work.

Then there are the furlough programs offered by many governments. In order to take advantage of any furlough program, it falls upon the employer to claim the appropriate grants from the government in most cases. The amount granted through these furlough programs generally depends on the hours they have not worked. Similarly, if your employees work for you part time despite being on furlough, you will need to calculate the pay they are entitled to based on the hours worked.

Now, while the calculations are complicated, they are all dependent on correctly accounting for the time component of your business. It is also possible for the government to ask you to provide proof of your calculations used for making the claims. You may also be required to provide records of your employees’ hours. This includes hours worked and hours spent on furlough.

All of the above can be incredibly frustrating and challenging if you use manual methods and spreadsheets to track time and pay. These methods are prone to errors and will rarely stand up to any audits that you may face. Maintaining proper records is also difficult when your data is spread across multiple paper documents and spreadsheets.

The most effective way to solve these problems is by investing in a robust timesheet system like Replicon.

How Replicon Solves Time Tracking Challenges of Furloughed Employees

Replicon’s timesheets software simplifies the time capture process while enhancing the accuracy of the captured data with several advanced capabilities. No matter the size or sector of your organization, you can easily leverage the data captured for use in furlough grant calculations without worries. Here are a few reasons why Replicon will benefit your organization as your employees start returning to work after COVID.

Schedule Management: Managing working and furloughed employees becomes easier with Replicon’s scheduling software. Track employee availability down to each hour and deploy the right employees to meet the unique requirements created by flexible furloughing. Easily make proactive adjustments to avoid over-staffing or under-staffing while communicating the same to your workers in real time.

Versatile and Accurate Timesheets: Replicon offers configurable timesheets that can meet all unique requirements around time and attendance. Leverage them to capture not only clock in and clock out times but also meal breaks and rest breaks to get granular level data on all employees’ hours. Additionally, multi-level intelligent approval workflows, as well as validation rules, ensure that all time data captured are 100 percent accurate. This will ensure that your calculations for flexible furlough programs can stand up to scrutiny when needed. If needed, you can even track time against projects directly for more accurate billing.

Comprehensive Employee Classification: With Replicon, you will have no trouble organizing your workforce into relevant categories for easier pay calculations. Replicon supports all employee types, including salaried, part-time, hourly, and contractual. No matter which employees are furloughed, you can use Replicon to get accurate time and pay data in just a few clicks.

Mobile Timesheets and Touchless Time Clock: Make it easier for all employees to enter time with Replicon’s advanced mobile application, available for Android and iOS. Organizations with remote and distributed workforces will particularly benefit as employees can enter time anywhere, anytime. With the app, they get access to the same timesheets and data as the web version. Businesses can also utilize the intelligent CloudClock‘s touchless capabilities to manage employees clocking in and out while ensuring workplace safety.

Maintain Labor Compliance: Leverage Replicon’s pre-configured pay rule library, in-built pay rule engine, and compliance dashboard to meet all relevant laws and regulations around employee pay. After all, you cannot ignore labor law simply because your employees were on furlough. Replicon can automatically apply relevant pay rules to ensure payroll accuracy. You can even implement custom pay rules to meet your business needs.

Granular Real-Time Visibility: Replicon gives you the ability to create custom dashboards to get a real-time view of your employees’ time, attendance, time off, pay, and more. Discover potential issues and get them rectified quickly to ensure that you are always ready for an audit. Use the granular level of data available to manage a furloughed employee’s return easily.

Verified Timesheet Data for Audits: With intelligent approval workflows, validation rules, an in-built pay rule engine, and other advanced features, all data available to you in Replicon will be 100 percent accurate and reliable. All changes are automatically tracked, ensuring every piece of data has a trail you check when needed. Ensure that all records and data needed to support your furlough claim calculations are verified. Moreover, Replicon ensures all data is always accessible to you thanks to its robust cloud platform.

With Replicon, you can ensure a smooth transition for your employees as they transition from being furloughed to being back at work. With configurable timesheets that capture time accurately, robust schedule management capabilities, and mobile time tracking, your organization will ensure that each employee’s time is measured meticulously, leading to accurate pay. That is one less thing your employees will have to worry about as they return to work. Replicon will also help meet labor compliance requirements no matter where in the world you operate. Try a free demo to see how Replicon is the ideal partner for your business as your employees come back into work.

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Arpan Patra
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Arpan Patra
Arpan is an assistant content marketing manager at Replicon. He enjoys learning and writing about technologies that are making the world a better place. Replicon provides award-winning products that make it easy to manage your workforce. With complete solution sets for client billing, project costing, and time and attendance management, Replicon enables the capture, administration, and optimization of your most underutilized and important asset: time.
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