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


In the case of enterprise, issues don’t all the time go in line with plan. Sooner or later, you might discover your organization struggling to remain afloat financially. And if that point comes, you might 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 as a consequence of an organization’s or worker’s wants. Furloughs are sometimes unpaid. Though a furlough is an involuntary depart, it’s often not everlasting. 

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

  • The employer might cut back the workers’ hours
  • Staff might have to take an unpaid depart of absence

You could resolve to implement a furlough for a wide range of causes. Listed below are a number of examples of the reason why your corporation 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 embody an worker decreasing work hours over a number of weeks, taking quite a few unpaid days all year long, or taking a bit of unpaid depart unexpectedly.

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

As soon as a furlough ends, the workers 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 a number of variations. 

With non permanent furloughs, workers might have restricted hours, take unpaid days off, or use paid time without work. And, the workers might have particular scheduled time without work 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. Staff might obtain severance pay or no pay in any respect. Throughout layoffs, workers often don’t have any call-back rights or expectations of the job returning not like with furloughs.

An employer can go for non permanent layoffs the place they in the reduction of or quickly cease an worker’s work, however the worker continues to be employed. Nevertheless, not like furloughs, there isn’t any assure {that a} non permanent 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 is no such thing as a set time for the way lengthy furlough may be. For some companies, a furlough might solely be a few days or perhaps weeks. Then again, 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 corporation, test 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 will need to pay a furloughed worker relies on 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 usually 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. In the event you plan on furloughing workers or have common furloughs (e.g., seasonal enterprise), remember to 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 time without work 
  • Who can obtain pay, if relevant
  • How you intend to rehire furloughed workers

In the event you unexpectedly have to furlough staff, be certain that to offer as a lot data as doable to your workers. The extra clear you might be concerning the scenario, the higher. 

Furlough legal guidelines to bear in mind

In the event you implement furlough at your corporation, you will need to observe sure legal guidelines. Take a look at which furlough guidelines to bear in mind.


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

Exempt workers should not coated by the FLSA (e.g., they can’t obtain additional time wages). You solely need to pay an exempt worker throughout a furlough in the event that they work through the furlough. If the exempt worker works at any time through the furlough interval, you will need to pay them their complete wage for the interval.

Nonexempt workers are coated 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 additional time laws when nonexempt workers work throughout a furlough.

Contemplate implementing a “no work” rule to forestall workers from doing any work through the furlough. Make particular guidelines like having workers depart their units on the workplace to forestall working from dwelling. Lay out your necessities clearly when implementing the furlough. That means, there’s no confusion afterward.

Get the inside track on all issues FLSA.

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


You will need to additionally observe the Equal Employment Alternative Fee (EEOC) for worker furlough. You can not challenge furlough based mostly on an worker’s race, age, gender, faith, nationality, incapacity, or genetic data.


You could want to barter phrases if your corporation is a part of a union. The Nationwide Labor Relations Act (NLRA) requires you to barter phrases and situations with the union about worker furlough. Talk about particulars with staff just like the spacing of days and whether or not the workers 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. Be sure the phrases and situations listed in worker contracts don’t restrict furloughs.

Worker advantages

Usually, frequent worker advantages should not affected by furloughs (e.g., medical health insurance). Since furlough is non permanent, workers should not entitled to severance pay, early retirement advantages, or outplacement.

Staff could also be eligible for unemployment advantages relying on the state. Examine along with your state for particular legal guidelines concerning 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 data, please click on right here.


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