Tips to Rehire Canada’s Employees After Layoffs

Welcome back workers with a digitized recall experience

Canada has stepped up to support non-working employees during COVID-19. Economically, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) have been helpful. Provincial Employment Standards Acts allow for Emergency Leave and Infectious Disease Leave while maintaining employee protections like insurance benefits whether sick, isolating, or caring for loved ones. Fortunately, the vast majority of people who are off work are not sick – but many have been laid off. 

To protect the employment status of Canadians who have weathered staff reductions due to COVID-19, the Government of Canada extended the time periods for temporarily furloughed workers to allow more time to recall them without defaulting to permanent termination. As of June 22, 2020, Canada Labour Standards Regulations temporarily extended the rehire window from three months to up to six months.

Now, after months of work disruptions, restrictions are loosening and businesses are beginning to reopen. Amid all the uncertainty, Human Resources teams are focused on creating safe, productive work environments and gearing up to bring staff back. To fill vacancies left by workforce reductions, in many cases the logical solution is to rehire the same people who were laid off. This strategy is good for morale and productivity. It also brings a unique set of HR challenges. 

Forward-thinking organizations are seeking efficient ways to communicate rehire plans, create individualized re-employment agreements and maintain legal compliance. The best way to return employees to the workplace is with a digitized, streamlined hiring process. 

Determining processes to automate

Defining the required recall paperwork and workflows (how and to whom every agreement gets routed) is a vital step in quickly bringing former employees back to work. Rehire rules may vary from province to province and existing employment contracts could have specific termination clauses, so watch for exceptions to your general rehire process. 

In many cases, HR faces the additional challenge of managing all the necessary reboarding operations without the benefit of coordinating it all through a physical office location – so it’s vital to have an efficient, transparent, and remote way for all rehires (and new hires) to complete agreements.

Electronic signatures offer a simple, secure way for HR teams and employees to sign and complete digitized documents remotely – any time, from virtually any mobile device (PC, tablet, phone). Prebuilt, reusable templates make preparing paperwork easy and allow for customization. They also save time and reduce errors. 

Digitizing the recall offer letter process

Generally, the first step to rehiring employees is to issue a recall offer letter. The letter restores employment terms and gives the individual a window of time to accept or decline the offer, and specifies a start date to resume work. If they accept, the company can proceed with the rehire. 

When an offer is accepted, the completion of the agreement can automatically trigger other important processes, such as notify stakeholders in management, payroll, security and IT, and send key documents to returning employees regarding taxes and group benefits. Compliance waivers outlining new safety procedures in the workplace and personal health declarations can also be distributed en masse.

Preparing remote hires for success

It’s likely that new and rehired employees will be working remotely, which may create new challenges with equipment, workflows and internal communications. To accommodate this new distributed workforce, HR leaders need to build systems that support broad and efficient distribution of information across their organizations. The most effective way to do that is to digitize paperwork and automate processes.

Digitized documents that employees must read, complete, and sign, can automatically route back to HR and other internal stakeholders which helps bridge physical distances between steps in HR operations. Digital tools like bulk send handily disseminate information about benefits or policy changes related to the evolving workplace that apply to everyone. 

A remote workforce is most self-sufficient when it can manage processes independently. It takes a commitment from HR to enable that by putting digitized systems into practice. 

Modern HR practices as employer differentiator

Maximizing the productivity of rehires and new hires means more than electronic signatures on offer letters. Connecting the full hiring and onboarding workflow together in a contract lifecycle management (CLM) system makes for a modern, on-demand experience that empowers employees to self pace and stay compliant – all while ramping up to settle in faster and be productive sooner.  

Top CLM solution vendors already integrate with popular HR systems such as Workday, SAP and Oracle HCM, eliminating duplicate data entry and reducing human error. Integrations with applicant tracking systems like Greenhouse, JobVite and SmartRecruiter connect the recruiting workflow together, offering HR teams the opportunity to build one connected digital workflow for all new and returning hires. 

Modern HR processes signal to applicants that the organization is committed to its workforce, which translates to more applicants applying to open positions and a higher percentage of offers accepted. When recruiting resumes in full and the millions of laid off employees begin job hunting in earnest, a frictionless, modern hiring process will be a big factor in attracting the best talent.

There is optimism in the air as furloughed staff start being called back to work. A digitized hire and onboarding process simplifies and streamlines the volumes of paperwork that HR departments are now facing to get staff back online. Updated HR practices that take full advantage of automated tools create an employee-friendly experience and give your organization a competitive recruiting advantage – to welcome back returning employees and those yet to be hired.

Get HR's Guide to Digital Hiring and Onboarding to learn more. 


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