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

In relation to enterprise, issues don’t at all times go in accordance 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 must furlough some employees to keep away from drowning. So, what’s furlough? Maintain studying to be taught 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 result 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 usually occurs throughout a furlough:

  • The employer might cut back the staff’ hours
  • Workers might must take an unpaid depart of absence

Chances are you’ll determine to implement a furlough for quite a lot of causes. Listed below are just a few examples of the reason why your small business might must 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 numerous unpaid days all year long, or taking a bit of unpaid depart suddenly.

Furloughs are frequent throughout powerful financial instances, just like the COVID-19 pandemic. You might also see authorities employees 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 momentary furloughs, workers might have restricted hours, take unpaid days off, or use paid break day. And, the staff might have particular scheduled break day or be on name for work. Once more, workers can sometimes anticipate 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 don’t have any call-back rights or expectations of the job returning in contrast to with furloughs.

An employer can go for momentary layoffs the place they in the reduction of or quickly cease an worker’s work, however the worker remains to be employed. Nonetheless, in contrast to furloughs, there isn’t any assure {that a} momentary layoff gained’t be everlasting. Employers determine if employees 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 the way lengthy furlough will 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 fluctuate by state. For instance, some states might outline indefinite furlough as termination. Earlier than implementing furlough at your small business, verify along with your state to learn the way they outline furlough and different necessities (e.g., whether or not workers might obtain unemployment advantages).

Do you need to pay furloughed workers?

Whether or not or not you have to pay a furloughed worker depends upon 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 should 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 case you plan on furloughing workers or have common furloughs (e.g., seasonal enterprise), you’ll want to define the next:

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

In case you unexpectedly must furlough employees, be certain that to offer as a lot data as attainable to your workers. The extra clear you’re concerning the scenario, the higher. 

Furlough legal guidelines to bear in mind

In case you implement furlough at your small business, you have to observe sure legal guidelines. Try which furlough guidelines to bear in mind.


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

Exempt workers are usually not coated by the FLSA (e.g., they can’t obtain additional time wages). You solely should pay an exempt worker throughout a furlough in the event that they work in the course of the furlough. If the exempt worker works at any time in the course of the furlough interval, you have 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 must pay them for hours labored. Be sure to observe minimal wage and additional time laws when nonexempt workers work throughout a furlough.

Contemplate implementing a “no work” rule to stop workers from doing any work in the course of 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 manner, there’s no confusion afterward.

Get the news on all issues FLSA.

Obtain our FREE whitepaper, FLSA Cheat Sheet, to study FLSA guidelines and necessities.


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


Chances are you’ll want to barter phrases if your small business 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 employees just like the spacing of days and whether or not the staff can select when to take furlough.


Overview 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 certain the phrases and circumstances listed in worker contracts don’t restrict furloughs.

Worker advantages

Typically, frequent worker advantages are usually not affected by furloughs (e.g., medical insurance). Since furlough is momentary, workers are usually 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 data, please click on right here.