Ngày cập nhật 26/09/2022

Furloughs vs Layoffs: Difference, Advantages & Disadvantages

Furloughs vs Layoffs: Layoffs constitute a permanent termination, whereas furloughs often require a temporary restructure. Employees who are laid off do not typically continue to receive health insurance or other benefits. This article will explain how both options function and help you decide whether it should be a layoff or a furlough.

Overview Furloughs and Layoffs

Furloughs vs Layoffs: Difference, Advantages & Disadvantages

Businesses that lack the money to pay their employees' salaries or provide enough work for them to do frequently resort to furloughs and layoffs.

Layoffs constitute a permanent termination, whereas furloughs often require a temporary restructure. Employees who are given a furlough frequently continue to receive health insurance and other benefits; employees who are laid off do not.

Read on to learn more about each phrase and how they compare!

Read more: Employee Turnover Vs Attrition

What does furlough mean?

Furloughs vs Layoffs: Difference, Advantages & Disadvantages

An employee who is on a furlough must return to work or be reinstated from a reduced work schedule after the required temporary leave of absence.

Furloughs are designed to cut costs while keeping personnel on staff, either to redirect money to other areas of the company or to prevent spending crucial money during a pandemic closing period.

The employee's hours may be drastically curtailed or they may be asked to take an unpaid leave of absence during the furlough.

Employers must use caution while furloughing exempt personnel in order to maintain their salary status and avoid jeopardizing their exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Since the FLSA says that exempt employees are not required to be compensated for any week in which they conduct no work, a furlough that lasts the entirety of a workweek is one approach to achieve this.

Employees who have been furloughed might still be eligible for benefits and be able to receive unemployment insurance to make up for the lost time at work, depending on the specifics of the situation.

Furloughed nonexempt employees

Hourly workers make up the majority of nonexempt employees. If a worker is paid hourly, their employer is permitted to reduce their hours so that they can take a furlough without firing them.

An individual who typically works 20 hours per week can temporarily have their hours reduced to just 10 per week.

A zero-hour schedule, commonly known as no hours, is an additional option. Even though they are not paid or given working hours, employees who are on zero-hour schedules are nonetheless regarded as firm employees.

During the coronavirus pandemic, several companies, including restaurants and retail stores, frequently employed this zero-hour schedule.

Businesses could retain their employees on staff and resume scheduling hours as soon as limitations were released, saving them from the difficult and painful process of terminating their entire team and recruiting them back when things resumed.

Exempt employees

Every workweek in which an exempt employee performs any work, they are entitled to their full wage. Since salaried workers receive the same pay regardless of the number of hours they work, cutting back on hours makes no sense for them.

Instead, the employer will temporarily lower their compensation or assign them to a zero-hour schedule for a certain period of time when a salaried employee is furloughed. This may last for a few weeks, a week every month, or even a few days.

It is illegal for salaried staff to continue working or taking calls while they are on furlough, so don't count on them to. Employees on furlough are unable to perform any work. even a straightforward email exchange.

Benefits and drawbacks of furloughed



  • Benefits are often kept by employees.
  • Costs are cut by the business.
  • When the company's financial status improves or the business reopens, you won't need to go through an expensive hiring and training process.
  • Workers will be allowed to receive unemployment benefits.
  • The business still covers the cost of employee benefits.
  • Workers are in a limbo situation.
  • Unemployment benefits aren't always available to employees to make up for lost earnings.

How long can a company furlough an employee?

Furlough duration is often determined by the employer, but it usually corresponds to the length of the downturn. Businesses are expected to notify employees ahead of time if there will be an extend. However, lengthy furloughs might occasionally result in layoffs.

Read more: What Is The Difference Between Parttime And Fulltime?

What is layoffs employees?

Furloughs vs Layoffs: Difference, Advantages & Disadvantages

When you are laid off, it indicates that the corporation has opted to make changes that resulted in your loss of employment.

A layoff is effectively a termination, frequently as a result of a shortage of open positions. Employees lose their connections to the company when they are let go.

Even if laying off employees is the same as dismissing them, it's common practice to classify it separately from firing workers due to misconduct or other reasons.

Temporary layoffs are frequent in particular industries, even though permanent ones may be brought on by financial hardship or an economic disturbance like the coronavirus epidemic.

Layoff benefits and drawbacks



  • Benefits are no longer required to be paid for by the employer.
  • Employees don't need to hold out hope that your company will hire them back; they can start looking for their next position.
  • It is expensive to hire and train new personnel.
  • The business pays unemployment benefits.
  • Loss of institutional knowledge for the company
  • Regaining strength or being able to "bounce back" can be more difficult.

How to choose between furloughing and laying off?

Some firms are limited in their options, even if there is frequently no clear consensus over whether a company should furlough or lay off staff.

Determine how long the recession will last.

A furlough could be a viable alternative if it is anticipated that financial conditions and the labor market would improve soon, however extended periods of deterioration may call for layoffs.

Comply with CBAs

Businesses that employ unionized personnel must take care to abide by CBAs, which may have stringent rules controlling the conditions of employee release.

Evaluate the effect on the company's reputation.

Although laying off employees could be unpopular, prolonging their furloughs could further damage the company's reputation.

Take into account employee preferences.

Employers who maintain an open line of communication with their staff members may wish to inform them of the circumstances and give them a say in the choice.

Furloughs or layoffs may be an option for your company, in which case you'll need to weigh many aspects to decide which is best for your corporation and the circumstances at hand.

Furloughs vs Layoffs: What is the difference?

Medical benefits

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) does not apply to furloughs.

Employers must classify a furlough as a decrease in hours if it prevents coverage from continuing because of the healthcare plan's provisions, making it a COBRA-qualifying occurrence. Businesses may cover all or a portion of an employee's payments, but they are still required to inform the provider of the employee's reduced hour status and their eligibility for COBRA.

Workers who have been laid off are no longer regarded as employees and are not covered by a company's group health plan. Employers are required to inform these workers of their ability to maintain coverage under COBRA. Under COBRA, employees are responsible for paying for any healthcare benefits that were previously provided by the employer.
Paid time off (PTO)Employees who are laid off continue to have access to their unused personal, sick, and vacation time. They might even be able to use their paid time off (PTO) to get paid when they're not working.Unless the employer's policy specifies otherwise, laid-off employees are compensated for any unused PTO days to the extent permitted by law.
UnemploymentEmployees who have been furloughed but are still employed do not meet the criteria for unemployment benefits. Laid off employees typically qualify for unemployment benefits if they have earned the required minimum amount of income during the preceding year.To be eligible for unemployment benefits, laid-off workers must actively seek employment.
Assure employmentWhen the furlough is over, employees usually return to work.Nobody who has been laid off can be sure that their company will ever rehire them.

Common Asked Questions

Furloughs vs Layoffs: Difference, Advantages & Disadvantages

What would be the solution of those being laid off?

  • A "Laid-Off Letter" should be requested from human resources.
  • Inquire about the benefits of your health insurance.
  • Pick up or check on your last paycheck.
  • Examine your pension and/or 401(k) plans.
  • Look into Severance Packages.
  • Apply for unemployment benefits.
  • Use the Internet to your advantage.
  • Bring New Life to Your Resume.

Is it better to furlough or layoff employees?

If you lose your job, you'll probably only be allowed to keep transferable benefits, and even then, only if you pay the full cost of those benefits.

Your hours will be cut during a furlough, and your pay will also be affected. Your hours could be reduced by 10%, cut in half, or completely eliminated by your employer.

Is being furloughed the same as being unemployed?

Being laid off as opposed to being furloughed has the advantage that the employee would need to be rehired in order to resume employment with the company. If you are on furlough, you can still be eligible for employee benefits and jobless benefits during this period.

How long before a furlough becomes a layoff?

A "furlough" that has no set return date to work within 10 days or less.


Both layoffs and furloughs have benefits and drawbacks. Planning for the current and future demands of your company is crucial, as is taking your employees' best interests into account.

Understanding the potential effects of layoffs and furloughs will make it clearer which choice is preferable in your situation. You can read on How to strategically downsize your business if you have budget problems. Please leave a comment below when you have any queries! Tanca is pleased to assist you.

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