Furloughed workers refusing to come back to work
Have laid-off employees become lazy after three months off?
For the last three months, more than one in four UK workers has been placed on furlough whilst the country faces the Covid-19 pandemic, and it appears that significant numbers don’t want to go back.
While furlough schemes have provided many workers with the opportunity to have a long period of time off of work while still being paid, we’ve found that many are reluctant or down-right refusing to come back to work.
Health and Safety software company Protecting.co.uk have heard from many employers who are struggling to get their employees to come back into work, with the habit of being on paid leave seeming hard to break.
“Have workers become lazy after three months off?” asks company spokesperson Mark Hall. “Just because the government is paying their wages shouldn’t mean they are entitled to stay off work and get paid to do absolutely nothing,” says company spokesman Mark Hall.
With the government announcing that the furlough scheme has been extended until the end of October*, many employers are worried that their staff will abuse the system.
“The government is paying my wage so I don’t have to work”
The current UK furlough scheme which has been put in place allows employees to receive 80% of their monthly salary up to the value of £2,500, paid for by the government.*
But as over a quarter of workers in the UK are now on the scheme, there are fears that some people are treating it as a holiday that their bosses cannot call them back from.
Protecting.co.uk surveyed 500 businesses about employees’ reactions to being on furlough, and 10% of business owners have had to explain to workers that they can be called off of the scheme at any point and asked to return back to work.
Leon, Salford: “I called up a member of staff to say we were happy to bring them off furlough and they could start work again and they point blank refused to come back for no reason other than they expected the government to continue paying their wage. It wasn’t like they even needed to come in, they would have been working from home”
Cynthia, Norfolk: “I’ve had staff calling up and asking to stay on furlough, but I need them back at work . I’ve put all kinds of measures in place and it’s perfectly safe for them.”
Muhammad, Newcastle: “I’ve had one member of staff refusing to come back from furlough because he doesn’t think it’ll be safe, but I’ve seen online he’s been going on days out with his family to the seaside at Whitley Bay. I think he’s just milking the paid time off.”
Charlie, Bristol: “One lady emailed me and said ‘The government is paying my wage so I don’t have to work’ and no matter how much I explained to her that she was only on furlough for as long as I put her on the scheme, she did not understand it at all.”
Hall: “I know that for some it must feel like a dream come true being paid but not having to go to work, but your boss is fully entitled to call you back to work as soon as it’s safe and practical.”
“I’m trying to encourage staff to return on their own terms”
Although it might be easy to assume that staff do not want to come back into work because they can’t be bothered and they’ve been enjoying a paid summer away from the office, there are many people who are still concerned about the health risks of returning to work during the pandemic.
Over two-fifths of UK workers are feeling anxious about returning to work after the lockdown**, with many expressing their fears over lack of safety in the workplace and the general health risks that may occur.
Hall: “Some staff members might be apprehensive about returning to work amidst so much uncertainty, but by keeping them up to date with any changes that will be implemented for their safety and providing PPE might be enough to coax them back into the office.”
This is how some bosses are approaching the situation, such as Tricia who runs an office in Devon, who says she’s trying to be as flexible as possible to ease people into coming back into work.
“I’m trying to encourage staff to come back on their own terms, and many are eager to come back to get paid their full wage again.”
Mark Hall says, “Covid-19 hasn’t been a holiday by any stretch of the imagination – it’s been a time of illness and frustration and tragedy.
“If you’ve got a job and you’ve been furloughed, coming back to work is important for both you and your employer, but only if it’s safe.”