What Does it Mean to be Furloughed?

With the economic fallout on the state and federal level, many employers are choosing to furlough their employees during the coronavirus pandemic. A furlough is a relatively new concept for many workers who understandably have questions about what it means to be on furlough status. Understanding what it means to be furloughed and how it affects your employment is critical during this uncertain time. If you have been notified that your employer is going to furlough you, call or contact an experienced employment law attorney in your area to learn more about your legal options.

What is a Furlough?

A furlough is different than a termination or a layoff. An employee that gets furloughed is still on the employer’s payroll and considered an employee of the business. However, a furloughed employee either works on a reduced hourly basis or is forced to take a break from work with no pay. Typically, a furlough lasts less than six months because any period longer may trigger legal requirements for the employer similar to those of mass layoffs. Once a furlough is ended, the employees typically return to their same status and pay. Furloughed employees differ from employees out of work because of a layoff. A layoff is a separation from the business that can be temporary or permanent, and the employee is not kept on the company’s payroll.

What Happens to Furloughed Employees’ Benefits?

In most cases, a furloughed employee’s retirement benefits stay in place during and after the duration of the furlough. However, an employee’s health benefits may change while on furlough status. This is typically left to the discretion of the employer and their specific insurance plans. Some companies require employees to work a certain number of hours per week in order to remain eligible for health coverage, while others are relaxing their rules in order to keep employees on health insurance during their furlough. Check with your employer to see what rules apply to you.

What Else Should I Know About Furloughs?

The good news for employees is that companies usually opt for a furlough when they expect to bring their workers back after a short period of time after the rough patch has been weathered, unlike a layoff which may or may not mean a return to work. In addition, furloughed employees are usually eligible to apply for unemployment benefits while on leave from their employer. A furloughed employee is not supposed to work for another employer during their time off, although an employee is allowed to look for another job while on furlough. Finally, an employer is not allowed to discriminate when determining which employees are furloughed from the company.

Talk to an Employment Law Attorney Today If you would like to learn more about your legal options while on furlough, or if you suspect that your employer discriminated against you when placing you on furlough during the coronavirus outbreak, call or contact an experienced California employment law attorney today to schedule an evaluation of your case.