First, I want to acknowledge the difficulty of finding yourself in a position where you are considering reducing hours for your staff. The seriousness of this outbreak is becoming apparent to all of us. Just like with all things in Human Resources, there are best practices to follow with regard to performing furloughs and laying off staff.
Step by Step
1. You decide to or are mandated to close all or part of your business
2. Determine what changes need to take place in the operations of your business, and which staff are in nonessential positions.
3. Determine whether or not your are able to continue paying your staff to work, if you will furlough them, or if you will lay them off. If you still have business to perform, consider converting any full time salaried employees to part time employees so that you can track their work hours as the weeks progress. If you do not have business to perform, decide whether you would prefer to furlough or lay off your employees. If you decide to furlough, then employees can continue to qualify for medical and other benefits. If you decide to lay off then employees will not qualify to continue benefits. (Article: What is a Furlough and What Are Employee Rights During One)
4. Determine the length of the furlough or layoff and who will be affected. You can lay your staff off indefinitely with the intent of bringing them back, or you can lay them off for a specific period of time (two weeks for example). At this time (March 17) many businesses in Santa Cruz are laying employees off or furloughing until April 7 (current Shelter in Place mandate), or indefinitely.
5. Notify all affected staff of changes to business operations. This is typically an email sent to staff explaining the reason for the changes in operations, and how they may be affected.
6. Provide your staff with any wages owed to them at the time of the layoff. Have each employee who is laid off complete a Final Paycheck Receipt, and provide them with the EDD website information for filing an Unemployment Insurance Claim. Many will also qualify for Food Stamps which can be applied for online. Emergency food is available for children aged 1 - 18 at local schools. Emergency food for all others is available at Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes in Watsonville (Monday - Friday 9am - 3pm), Twin Lakes Church in Aptos (Wednesdays 3:30PM - 5:30PM), and other locations to be announced soon.
7. Any staff that have reduced hours should receive a “Notice of Reduced Earnings” on a weekly basis.
8. Continue to provide high quality, if limited, service. Do what you can to contribute to the wellbeing of the community during this time. Communicate with others about the seriousness of the outbreak, and ask that they keep themselves and others safe.
More information on Vacation Pay and Bonuses here.
Please contact me through email if you would like to have more information.