In times of economic downturn, employers may choose to furlough employees vs. laying off employees, but what does it mean to be furloughed?

Furloughed employees agree to take a temporary unpaid leave of absence. These leaves can be short term or long-term depending on the situation. Furloughing employees is a good strategy for organizations to temporarily cut costs while also retaining talent.

Now that organizations are starting to reopen for business, it’s time to start bringing back these furloughed employees. This is a very exciting time for many, but it’s important to have a process in place to ensure a smooth and quick transition for your people back into the workforce, while setting the right expectations and maintaining compliance.

The first step is to notify employees you wish to bring back with a furlough recall letter. Your people will have a lot of questions, and in the wake of an event like COVID-19, there may be new workplace policies and procedures in place that your people will need to know about.

So, what should this furlough recall letter include?

Employment Offer

Just like a new hire employment offer letter, the furlough recall letter must state a position offering along with a start date, or a resume date in this case.

Terms of Employment

The terms of employment may include specific details such as:

  • Job Title
  • Supervisor
  • Salary
  • Hours
  • Responsibilities
  • Employee Classification


Relay important information regarding employee benefits, seniority, and how previously accrued time off or PTO will be handled.

New Workplace Procedures


It is the employer’s responsibility to create and promote a safe working environment for its people. If it is not safe for employees to come back into an office, organizations will need to have a contingency plan for employees to work remote.
In regards to COVID-19, here are some new safety workplace procedures that you may need to communicate to employees:
  • Social Distancing
  • Staggered Schedules
  • Remote Work
  • Frequent Hand Washing
  • Temperature Taking
  • Regularly Disinfecting Surfaces

Employee Acceptance

Remember that employees have a right to decline this offer to be recalled for work. Depending on the length of the furlough period, employees may have taken a position at another organization. Whether it be through paper or an HCM solution, be sure your letter includes direction on how an employee should proceed to accept or decline the offer.

Throughout the whole letter, be transparent, yet reassuring. This is a time of high stress for many so be prepared to field a myriad of questions and keep all communication lines open.

Need help drafting a letter? Click here to download our Furlough Recall Letter sample. 

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