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What Is a Furlough? | Furlough definition, Professionals, Cons, & Extra

In terms of enterprise, issues don’t all the time go in keeping with plan. In some unspecified time in the future, chances are you’ll discover your organization struggling to remain afloat financially. And if that point comes, chances are you’ll have to furlough some staff to keep away from drowning. So, what’s furlough? Maintain studying to study the definition of furlough, examples, and the way a furlough differs from a layoff.

Furlough definition

What does furlough imply? A furlough is a short lived depart because of an organization’s or worker’s wants. Furloughs are sometimes unpaid. Though a furlough is an involuntary depart, it’s normally not everlasting. 

Relying on the scenario, certainly one of two issues typically occurs throughout a furlough:

  • The employer might scale back the staff’ hours
  • Workers might have to take an unpaid depart of absence

It’s possible you’ll resolve to implement a furlough for quite a lot of causes. Listed here are just a few examples of the explanation why your enterprise might have to have a furlough:

  • Not having sufficient cash for payroll
  • Having a slower season
  • Not having sufficient supplies to maintain producing items
  • Needing to chop again on enterprise bills 

Furloughs might embrace an worker lowering work hours over a number of weeks, taking plenty of unpaid days all year long, or taking a bit of unpaid depart all of sudden.

Furloughs are frequent throughout powerful financial occasions, just like the COVID-19 pandemic. You may additionally see authorities staff furloughed if there’s a authorities shutdown. 

As soon as a furlough ends, the staff return to work and return to their common schedule. 

Furlough vs. layoff

What’s the distinction between furlough vs. layoff? Though they could sound comparable, they’ve just a few variations. 

With short-term furloughs, workers might have restricted hours, take unpaid days off, or use paid day off. And, the staff might have particular scheduled day off or be on name for work. Once more, workers can sometimes count on to return to work after a furlough is over. 

A layoff is when employers droop or terminate an worker due to the enterprise’s lack of labor, money, or supplies. Workers might obtain severance pay or no pay in any respect. Throughout layoffs, workers normally haven’t any call-back rights or expectations of the job returning in contrast to with furloughs.

An employer can go for short-term layoffs the place they in the reduction of or briefly cease an worker’s work, however the worker continues to be employed. Nevertheless, in contrast to furloughs, there is no such thing as a assure {that a} short-term layoff received’t be everlasting. Employers resolve if staff are recalled or not. If an employer chooses to not recall an worker, the layoff turns into everlasting.

What Is a Furlough? Furlough is temporary time off work for employees that is typically unpaid.

Furlough Q&A

Thirsty for extra furlough particulars? Maintain studying to seek out out solutions to generally requested questions.

How lengthy is a furlough?

There isn’t a set time for a way lengthy furlough might be. For some companies, a furlough might solely be a few days or even weeks. Alternatively, one other enterprise might have a furlough for months. 

Furlough guidelines can differ by state. For instance, some states might outline indefinite furlough as termination. Earlier than implementing furlough at your enterprise, verify along with your state to learn how they outline furlough and different necessities (e.g., whether or not workers might obtain unemployment advantages).

Do you must pay furloughed workers?

Whether or not or not you could pay a furloughed worker is determined by in the event that they’re exempt or nonexempt (defined extra later). 

Nonexempt workers paid hourly wages can nonetheless be paid for the hours they work. Exempt workers are typically not paid in the event that they’re furloughed. If an exempt worker works throughout a furlough, they have to be paid their wage for the interval. 

Furloughed workers don’t lose their advantages, like healthcare. 

How do you implement furlough?

To implement furlough efficiently, have a plan in place. If you happen to plan on furloughing workers or have common furloughs (e.g., seasonal enterprise), be sure you define the next:

  • How lengthy the furlough might be
  • What number of hours might be lower, if relevant
  • Whether or not workers can use paid day off 
  • Who can obtain pay, if relevant
  • How you propose to rehire furloughed workers

If you happen to unexpectedly have to furlough staff, ensure that to offer as a lot info as doable to your workers. The extra clear you’re concerning the scenario, the higher. 

Furlough legal guidelines to bear in mind

If you happen to implement furlough at your enterprise, you could observe sure legal guidelines. Try which furlough guidelines to bear in mind.


Below the Truthful Labor Requirements Act (FLSA), there are particular guidelines for exempt and nonexempt workers.

Exempt workers usually are not lined by the FLSA (e.g., they can’t obtain time beyond regulation wages). You solely must pay an exempt worker throughout a furlough in the event that they work throughout the furlough. If the exempt worker works at any time throughout the furlough interval, you could pay them their complete wage for the interval.

Nonexempt workers are lined by the FLSA. In case your nonexempt workers work throughout a furlough, you solely have to pay them for hours labored. Be sure you observe minimal wage and time beyond regulation laws when nonexempt workers work throughout a furlough.

Think about imposing a “no work” rule to stop workers from doing any work throughout the furlough. Make particular guidelines like having workers depart their units on the workplace to stop working from dwelling. Lay out your necessities clearly when implementing the furlough. That approach, there’s no confusion in a while.


Get the inside track on all issues FLSA.

Obtain our FREE whitepaper, FLSA Cheat Sheet, to find out about FLSA guidelines and necessities.


You could additionally observe the Equal Employment Alternative Fee (EEOC) for worker furlough. You can not subject furlough primarily based on an worker’s race, age, gender, faith, nationality, incapacity, or genetic info.


It’s possible you’ll want to barter phrases if your enterprise is a part of a union. The Nationwide Labor Relations Act (NLRA) requires you to barter phrases and circumstances with the union about worker furlough. Talk about particulars with staff just like the spacing of days and whether or not the staff can select when to take furlough.


Evaluation particular person contracts of employment earlier than implementing an worker furlough coverage. Some workers might have contractual rights to compensation or paid depart advantages. Make sure that the phrases and circumstances listed in worker contracts don’t restrict furloughs.

Worker advantages

Usually, frequent worker advantages usually are not affected by furloughs (e.g., medical health insurance). Since furlough is short-term, workers usually are not entitled to severance pay, early retirement advantages, or outplacement.

Workers could also be eligible for unemployment advantages relying on the state. Examine along with your state for particular legal guidelines relating to unemployment advantages.

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This text has been up to date from its unique publication date of December 26, 2018. 

This isn’t meant as authorized recommendation; for extra info, please click on right here.



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