Janice Reed
Community Specialist
Posted August 6, 2020

What you should know if you're furloughed...

Furlough can be confusing - but with a jobs recession, it's becoming much more common. Learn what furlough means, how it's different from being laid off, and what you can expect.
Janice Reed
Community Specialist
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What you should know if you're furloughed...
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As the #Coronavirus continues to surge, many employers are being forced to make additional reductions to their workforce via layoffs and furloughs.

While many are familiar with what being laid-off means, the previously less-common furlough may not be as well understood. So what does furlough mean for your job security, your rights and your benefits if you are furloughed by your employer?

We'll break this concept down for you so you can be aware of all this and more...

So what is a furlough?

A furlough is a mandatory, unpaid, temporary leave of absence from work. Unlike a layoff, which is a permanent termination, a furlough places your job on hold in the hopes that you will be able to return at a later date determined by your employer.

Furloughs have become increasingly common during the Coronavirus, as many employers are using furlough in anticipation of returning to business post-pandemic. Currently, furloughed workers comprise 59.5% of all unemployed workers. In June alone, 10.6 million workers were temporarily laid off, down from a peak of 18.1 furloughed workers million in April, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

Why does it matter that I was furloughed rather than laid off?

Being furloughed can feel just as devastating as being laid off. You won't be paid for a time, and that lack of income will likely have negative impacts on your life. The difference to employers is that they can save time and money on hiring new workers once they're able to afford their payroll costs, but the difference to you today may not feel as relevant.

The thing to remember is that a furlough basically hits the pause button on your employment. Even if you find and move on to new work within that time, the added security of employment waiting for you (plus the benefits you may keep during furlough) separates those who are furloughed from those who are laid off, in the end.

You are still an employee of the company, unlike someone who was laid off. Ideally, you will be brought back in your original role or position at the same rate of pay. You also have the right to look for temporary work while furloughed, which does not jeopardize your ability to be rehired after the business recovers, so long as you do not accept a new position at a new employer.

Furloughs can go on for as long as the company feels necessary and do not have a set timeline, which can be unsettling. But you are entitled to certain rights and benefits during the interim...

Will I be paid during furlough?

During a furlough, you will not be paid. And because you will not be paid, you are not allowed to partake in any work for your company or employer—they may even revoke access to your work email or deactivate your badge or keys, as businesses are legally obligated to pay employees who break the “no work” rule. These rules are strictly enforced by employers.

Will I have health insurance while furloughed?

Yes, most companies who have furloughed workers are continuing their health care plans, according to Human Resource professionals and labor attorneys. However, it will depend on your employer and its policies. Be sure to check with your individual company and ask when they communicate the terms of your furlough plan.

Can I collect unemployment benefits while furloughed?

Yes, you are eligible to collect unemployment benefits and should file on the very first day you are furloughed.

It's important to note that the difference between a furlough and a layoff does not affect your unemployment eligibility and should not impact your claim.

As unemployment benefits vary on a state-by-state basis, make sure to check with your individual state. Nationally though, many waiting periods have been waived due to the ongoing pandemic.

What happens when a furlough ends?

The goal and intent are for you to come back to the same position in the future. Employers often do not specify an end date to a furlough until they are ready to re-open fully. It’s important to remember that many furloughed workers are not able to access their work emails during furlough, so make sure to remain in communication with your HR department or manager directly should the furlough period be shortened or extended.


Waiting for a furlough to end can be an uncertain time...

What tips would you give to someone under furlough now? Share your advice in the comments below...

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Janice Reed
Community Specialist
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Lenin Pina

Interesting info @Laila Nashat . I think a key takeaway point to consider about furlough is that this temporary unemployment status does not guarantee jobs will be returned to furloughed employees if the companies fortune turns around. Furloughed employee should always immediately refer to filing an unemployment claim and look for other/better employment opportunities.

Temp and seasonal job options also offer great supplemental income solutions for furloughed workers. Our #workfromhome and #hiringevents topic page are good reference resources where workers can find the most recent national and local hiring opportunities.

Good stuff here. Thanks for sharing!

1y
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Michael T.

There has been no federal financial assistance given to the transportation industry (that I know of) and, specifically, nothing provided for bus companies. My specific company began furloughs in March with the expectation that 'return to work' would begin around July. As of now, operations were re-started in July at a drastically reduced level with appox 20 drivers recalled (of 150), and one route active. For the drivers still 'furloughed' there is no transitioning to another bus company as all were similarly impacted. This has been devastating to these employees and without the supplemental ($600) assistance, the stress levels would have been off the charts as people struggle to pay pre-Covid expenses, with a post-Covid income. We face an uncertain future as Covid has re-defined the norms and opened doorways for 'work from home' alternatives that had considerably less traction with employers before. The dominos will not necessarily fall in favor of all the commuters returning to work, which will directly impact revenues and the ability of the unemployed to find work in a severely contracted marketplace. It would be enormously helpful to begin targeted retraining, as widely as possible, across the occupational spectrum to group 'like-skilled' workers together and see where an accelerated transition could occur. This would enable employers looking for that particular (or related) skill-set, to have a pool of potential candidates from which to draw. There has to be a beacon of hope for people who will soon face a full depletion of unemployment financial help.

1y
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Sheila Edmond

I have been furloughed since June 12. I wasn't too concerned because as you stated in your article "many waiting periods have been waived due to the ongoing pandemic." Today is August 10, and I still have not received any unemployment benefits, state or federal. When calling my local office I am told "just be patient". I find this level of delay to be absolutely ludicrous. I am interested in your educated opinion about this.

1y
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Jesse Histen

My benefits have only 3k left which is 6 weeks (I'm receiving 500 a week). I am on furlough. What happens when the benefits money runs out?

1y
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Mark Summers

If I take a temp or permanent job, will my furloughed employer still continue benefits until the furlough ends or I get new employee coverage? Does temp or regular employee make a difference?

1y
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Barb Finnerty

My company isn’t keeping up benefits while on furlough, so no health insurance. They offered cobra but no one can afford that! Very disappointed with them.

1y
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michele petrovich

I have been Furloughed since March 12, 2020. Received unemployment of $84.00 for the first 2 weeks, then received $600.00 a month and it was a godsend. But now I am back to $74.00/mo. with no more help. And I can't work either.

1y
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