Businesses across the UK who are making efforts to get back to business are facing a new uphill struggle – employees claiming stress and anxiety or are simply requesting outright to be furloughed for another 3 months.
It's a debate which is likely to gain strength over the coming weeks.
Workers who were furloughed back in April are being gradually invited back to work, although some are being asked to work from home. However, many small businesses are reporting major issues in getting staff back to their roles, after 3 months being at home.
“It’s crazy to think that after all this uncertainty and worry – that happy time arrives when you can invite staff back to work and that they don’t want to actually come back,” says Jonathan Ratcliffe who runs office space company Offices.co.uk.
Reports from SMEs across the UK include:
- Workers being too scared to come back to work and are being signed off due to anxiety
- Staff not wanting to come back to work, who would rather be furloughed for a bit longer
- Employees deciding to have a change of career
“Those struggling mentally you can well understand and have my sympathy, but we have seen first-hand staff simply asking if they can stay on furlough for a bit longer. It’s crackers, I couldn’t believe my ears”, adds Ratcliffe.
Businesses must tread carefully and understand the employee’s rights. Employers now face the daunting challenge of rebuilding businesses across a wide variety of sectors with a lack of motivated staff due to the long spell of lockdown.
The issue is complex, and the situation is unique for every type of business and every employee. However, as companies see demand for services increase over the next month, the issue of reintroducing staff from furlough into a routine of work is going to be a challenging one.
“I totally sympathise with everyone who has been furloughed, it’s a tough time, but we must realise the scheme cannot go on indefinitely. We want to welcome employees back with socially distanced open arms and build our way back out of this mess,” Ratcliffe from Offices.co.uk concludes.