As restrictions are lifted around our communities many businesses are in the process of recalling staff that have been furloughed or laid off.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when getting back to business.

Recall Letter

When calling these staff back to work it is recommended that employers send out a recall letter.  This letter is similar to an offer letter but should contain key items.

  1. Make sure to outline the staff member’s return date, job title, job responsibilities, hours/shift, supervisor, and wage.  This is especially important if any of these will change when they return to work.
  2. Outline any major changes you are implementing at your business; hours of operation, changes to processes/procedures, any policy changes, etc.
  3. A deadline to respond with either acceptance or decline; ensuring you know if a staff member plans on coming back or not.  I also recommend including language that states if a staff member does not respond by the deadline that you will take their non-response as a decline and terminate their employment.
  4. Document any safety measures you are implementing or have implemented to ensure the safety of your staff.  An outline of the precautions will help make your employees feel safe and ready to come back to work.
  5. Encourage staff to get in touch with you if they have concerns or need to talk about their individual situation.  Some staff may need more reassurance that you are doing what you can to ensure their safety and some may have a situation that will prevent them from coming back.  Open dialogue will be essential during this time.
  6. Include, if applicable, any at-will employment language.

The letter will help staff understand what is expected of them, what you have done to ensure their safety, and will provide you with documentation of the recall.

Reemployment Assistance

If you have staff members that decline to come back to work, it is important to know that they may lose their reemployment benefit with the state and federal government.  According to the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulations (DOL) a staff member who refuses to return to work when recalled may lose their benefit, except in certain circumstances.  The full list of circumstance can be found on the DOL website at  The website specifically states that being uncomfortable about returning to work when recalled is not an acceptable reason to decline work.

If you do have staff that refuse to return to work and don’t fall under one of the circumstances listed on their website, the DOL recommends that you notify them immediately via email at  [email protected].


Make sure to keep a copy of the recall letter and make any notes to the acceptance or decline of the offer.  If you do have a staff member that reaches out to you regarding their return to work, it is essential that you document any discussion of that return.  The staff member may have concern over safety or may have a legitimate reason for not coming back (like having COVID-19 or taking care of a child because of school closure).  Document the conversation as well as any compromise or adjustment you will make to that staff members specific situation.  It is recommended to have discussions with staff regarding their return if they have a concern and try to work out a return situation that works for both the employer and the employee.

For more information on COVID-19 legislation/regulations see the Ketel Thorstenson website at