How to Stay Flexible and Agile While Bringing Furloughed Employees Back to Work

How to Stay Flexible and Agile While Bringing Furloughed Employees Back to Work

As restrictions are lifted, and businesses prepare to resume operations (either onsite or with continued work from home), there are a number of things to think about. First and foremost, it is critical to ensure that a post-COVID workplace is safe for employees. At the same time, employers have to deal with the uncertainty of what a return to work will mean for the business itself. Markets are volatile, and stay-at-home orders have affected businesses differently, and will likely continue to do so in the future. The uncertainty that remains represents a challenge to any employer’s return to work strategy, and many are wondering: which employees should I bring back, and when?

One option to consider that will give you the flexibility to be nimble as uncertainty still looms, is Payroll Services

What are Payroll Services?

Payrolling is a service that Sparks Group offers, whereby employees can work for you, while existing on the Sparks Group overhead. Seeing as your employees will have Sparks Group as their employer of record, there is no need to worry about payroll, and all the taxes that are associated with it as they are the responsibility of Sparks Group. Should a future reduction in staff be necessary, Sparks Group would be responsible for the layoff and corresponding unemployment.

Payroll Services allows our clients to return former employees that have been furloughed or laid off back to work without adding to their headcount, or to the burden of the unknown. This service offers a number of benefits to an employer – benefits that are even more impactful in the current environment.

Payroll Services can help a company navigate unique situations in the post-COVID environment that they may not have considered. For example, what if returning employees are subject to job reclassification, or reduced hours or salaries? How will that be managed by the employer, and what are the liabilities associated with restructuring jobs in this way? What about changing hours of work, or having employees return on non-traditional schedules or increased work-from-home? And the most dreaded question, what happens if COVID returns along with new stay-at-home orders? Payroll Services shift much of this responsibility to Sparks Group, reducing risk and administrative burden for your organization.

Related Reading: 6 Things to Consider in a Return to Work Plan

How Does it Work?

The process for setting up Payroll Services to bring an employee back to work is fairly straightforward. 

1. The client identifies the candidate, and forwards information to Sparks Group
2. A Sparks Group representative schedules a virtual registration with the candidate
3. On-boarding and orientation are tailored to match the procedures of the client
4. As the employer of record, Sparks Group will handle employee wages, statutory taxes, applicable contributions to unemployment and workers compensation insurance, as well as maintenance of all records and reporting requirements

Once the client is ready, the candidate can be transitioned back on to their own payroll at any point in time, with no fees or repercussions due to Sparks Group. The client is in full control, dictating the candidate’s terms of employment including pay, benefits, and the length of time Payroll Services will last.

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How can Businesses Leverage Payroll Services?

Flexible Workforce

In an environment of high uncertainty, it is important that businesses remain flexible. This allows them to respond to changes with agility – taking advantage of new opportunities as they arise, and pivoting to reduce wasted efforts or resources. Payroll Services support this flexibility, allowing companies access to employees that have worked for them already – people who know the jobs, the processes, and the culture of the client company – on flexible terms and at a lower margin than traditional contractors or 1099 engagements. Furloughed employees can return to work on the Sparks Group payroll, without adding to the headcount of the client company.

Moreover, many companies are considering changing work schedules from what they were pre-COVID: to accommodate social distancing, or reduce travel during a crowded rush hour. Whatever the reason, changing work schedules can cause issues for an employer managing payroll in-house. Payroll Services from Sparks Group support changing schedules, as Sparks Group is responsible for calculating payroll, overtime, etc. in accordance with federal and state regulations.

Related Reading: 4 Proven Practices for Managing a Remote Workforce

Reduced Administrative Burden

By taking on the payroll and administrative tasks associated with returning furloughed staff to work, Sparks Group takes on the time-consuming burden of employee administration. Client companies can focus on their own business, managing product and service offerings, without the administrative responsibility of payroll, reporting and record-keeping, taxes, and associated tasks.

Improved Compliance

Maintaining a flexible workforce, but remaining in compliance with exemption regulations, has the potential to pose some risk to employers, as they return furloughed employees to work. For example, bringing an exempt (salaried) employee back on a partial schedule at reduced pay, or changing duties to cover for non-exempt employees, could put their exempt status at risk. The employer would be at risk for penalties and back pay under the FSLA.

However, if the employee is paid by Sparks Group Payroll Services, they are technically ‘employed’ by Sparks Group, relieving the client company of the risk associated with changes of status.

Related Reading: 3 Ways to Uphold Co Employment Laws and Ensure Compliance

Finally, the way that Sparks Group Payroll Services are structured means that when business picks up, furloughed employees can be returned to the client company’s payroll with no additional agency fees. You can have experienced staff working in the interim and available for regular full-time employment when it becomes available, without the risk of adding to headcount before you are ready. It also helps reduce the risk of losing valuable employees to other opportunities if they are not brought back to work in a timely manner.

Sparks Group Payroll Services can help you get the workforce flexibility needed to cope with the uncertainty of a post-COVID environment, minimizing risk and taking on the administrative burden of employment so that you can focus on your business.

If you have any questions about Sparks Group services, including payrolling, or if there is anything that we can do to help in these troubled times, please let us know.

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Written by Sparks Group

Sparks Group

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