20+ Difference Between Furlough And Layoff

Occasionally, businesses and other organizations must reduce their labor numbers due to the need to save money. While this may compel certain businesses to halt operations temporarily, it may also force them to lay off workers.

The two alternatives available to the employer in such a situation are layoff and furlough. Instead of temporarily halting the work of the employees, with or without compensation, as is the case with layoffs, many organizations opt for a furlough instead.

Nevertheless, differentiating between a furlough and a layoff might be difficult. 

Comparison Between Furlough and Layoff

UnemploymentWorkers who have been laid off are often asked to demonstrate that they have made an attempt to obtain new employment before they can qualify for unemployment benefits. However, this criterion is not met by the great majority of employees who are furloughed since they continue to do their regular job duties.On the other hand, employees who have been terminated without cause may be qualified for unemployment benefits as long as they have earned at least the minimum required amount of money in the year before being unemployed to qualify for the benefits.
Job assuranceWorkers who have been furloughed are more likely to be rehired by their prior employer when the time of furlough has come to an end, in contrast to those who have been laid off, who have no assurance that they will ever be recruited again by their previous employer.Even with seasonal workforces that only experience temporary layoffs, there is no guarantee that workers will have employment from one season to the next. This is the case even when the layoffs are just for a short period of time. This is still the case even in seasonal workforces that only face transitory layoffs.
ConsIt is possible that workers may begin looking for new employment somewhere before the conclusion of the vacation period. In addition, it might be challenging for furloughed employees to navigate the requirements of COBRA and state unemployment laws. Finally, during furloughs, it’s common for morale and productivity in the workforce to take a hit.When the time comes, employing new personnel and providing them with training is a costly endeavor. As a result, important staff who had years of experience and were knowledgeable about the company were let go. If the remaining workers take on more responsibilities, they run the risk of being overworked and disengaged.

Major Differences Between Furlough and Layoff

What Exactly Is a Furlough?

A furlough is a period of unpaid leave granted to an employee or worker to meet the temporary demands of the business or the workforce.

The expectation is that workers on furlough will return to their usual duties at some point. As a result, staff members may work fewer hours or be forced to take time off without pay during a furlough (as opposed to paid leave).

Furlough Key Differences

  • A furlough is a temporary leave of absence that is extended to employees.
  • They are given a choice to remain on the payroll even if they are not working during their time off while they are taking advantage of the furlough.
  • This is a stopgap measure designed to deal with unforeseen occurrences for a certain amount of time, during which the workers may or may not be retained.
  • Employees who are placed on unpaid leave are not disqualified from receiving benefits such as health or life insurance in the case of an unexpected emergency.
  • Workers who are furloughed are entitled to claim unemployment benefits from the government during the period that they are not being paid for their job.

What Exactly Is a Layoff?

A layoff is a kind of termination, often caused by an inadequate supply of available jobs. When an employee is laid off, their links to the firm are terminated. Although a layoff is a sort of employee dismissal, it is often considered in isolation from dismissals due to poor performance or other reasons.

Temporary layoffs are widespread in some sectors, whereas permanent layoffs might occur owing to financial difficulties or economic disruptions such as the coronavirus pandemic.

Layoff Key Differences

  • The phrase “layoff” refers to the dismissal of one person, either temporarily or permanently.
  • More often, the firing of a whole group of employees, with the intention of decreasing the workforce and therefore saving expenditures. 
  • Layoffs may be done temporarily or permanently. Nevertheless, it is an essential action that has to be carried out in order to bring an active worker’s employment to a successful conclusion.
  • Depending on the reasons for the employee’s departure, a severance payment may or may not be provided to the employee after their employment has ended.
  • However, accepting a severance package may have an influence on the benefits they are eligible for under the program.

Contrast Between Furlough and Layoff


  • Furlough- An employee of a government agency or an institution may be eligible for a short leave of absence, known as a furlough, which enables them to remain on the payroll despite the fact that they are not working.

    This is because a furlough allows them to take a break from their work responsibilities while still being paid for their time.
  • Layoff- A layoff is a term used to describe the temporary or permanent dismissal of an individual worker, or more often, the dismissal of a group of employees, in order to fulfill the strategic needs of a company or to handle the financial challenges that the company is facing.

    Layoffs are what are known as redundancies in place, and the decision to put them into place is taken by top management with the permission of the board of directors.

Paid Leaves

  • Furlough- On the other hand, employees who are furloughed get to keep any vacation, personal, or sick days from their prior company that they did not use up.

    It is also possible that they will be permitted to use their paid time off (PTO) to continue getting money while they are on furlough; however, employers often frown upon this practice since it directly opposes the objective of the furlough, which is to save expenses.
  • Lay off- Unless the employer’s policy stipulates otherwise to the extent that the law allows for it, employees who are laid off typically get reimbursements for any days left in their PTO balance at the time of their termination.

    This is the case unless the employer’s policy stipulates differently to a greater degree than the law allows for it.

Rules of Working

  • Furlough- The most significant difference between a furlough and a layoff is that the former enables employees to continue working, whilst the latter either reduces their compensation or does not pay them at all.

    A furlough is a paid leave of absence that is offered to employees in order to handle an issue that requires attention for a set length of time but does not threaten their job. This kind of leave of absence is given to workers in order to address a problem that needs attention.
  • Layoff- It is referred to as a “layoff” when an employee’s employment is terminated for reasons that are unrelated to how well the individual performed in their work requirements in order to fulfill their job responsibilities. In major firms, it is not uncommon to have employees laid off.


  • Furlough- The amount of time and money that may be saved by not having to recruit and train new employees is substantial.

    There is a chance that workers will be able to continue receiving their health benefits or apply for unemployment at the same time. Employees get a sense of relief from the tension they have been experiencing when they learn they will still have a job.
  • Layoff- As a consequence of layoffs, the costs not only associated with salaries but also those of benefits have been reduced.

    It is not always in the best interest of employees to have a false sense of optimism, and sometimes it is in their best benefit to make a clean break.

    When weighed against extended periods of unpaid leave, layoffs that are well-managed may be seen in a more positive light.

Benefits Of Employment

  • Furlough-  In contrast, a layoff conveys the message that the organization does not value the contributions of its employees.

    Even if they are not actively doing their tasks, workers who are placed on furlough are often permitted to continue receiving the employee benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled even though they are not working. This is the case in the majority of cases.
  • Layoff- A layoff does not communicate to employees that they individually have value and are treasured, nor does it signal to employees that the company is making every effort to keep them employed in the position that they are currently holding.

    The company sends both of these messages regardless of whether or not employees are laid off.


  • Furlough- Even if they are not physically present at work, workers who are put on furlough almost always continue to get their health insurance benefits from their employer even when they are not in the workplace.

    The one and only exception to this rule are when employers reduce their workers’ hours to the point that those workers no longer satisfy the requirements set out by the provider to be eligible for the benefit. This is the only circumstance in which this rule is ever waived.
  • Layoff- A furlough does not fulfill the qualifications to qualify as a qualifying event in accordance with the terms of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), which states that certain elements must be met. On the other hand, getting terminated from one’s job does qualify.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why would a company opt to give its workers unpaid leave rather than simply let them go instead of firing them?

If an organization chooses to use furloughs rather than layoffs, there is a chance that they will be able to keep important individuals on their team on staff.

They will be able to rehire their staff if and when their circumstances improve, which will save them from having to spend additional time and money hiring and training new people.

Is it possible for an employee to resign when they are on furlough?

When firms cut their staff in this manner, they expose themselves to a number of hazards, one of which is that workers who have been furloughed are free to hunt for permanent employment elsewhere.

However, depending on the conditions of their agreement, employers have the right to prevent their workers from holding temporary employment while they are on furlough.

Is being furloughed preferable to being laid off?

Equally to layoffs, furloughs may have positive and negative effects. It’s possible that furloughed workers will still be eligible for health insurance and be given the opportunity to return to work at a later time.

Conversely, workers who are laid off have more time to focus on finding a new job, which may be preferable to a lengthy furlough that ultimately leads to layoffs.

Is it feasible to terminate the employment of a worker who is out on leave at the moment?

When businesses do not recover enough, it is possible that they may not be able to bring back workers who were given furloughs; when this occurs, the employees may be sacked from their roles.

When something like this happens, businesses have a legal responsibility to comply with the regulations of WARN as well as any state law that regulates the notification of layoffs.

Is being placed on furlough the same as being fired and receiving unemployment benefits?

When calculating unemployment benefits, whether or not a state considers a furlough to be the same as a layoff depends on the state.

There are certain organizations that will enable furloughed employees to apply for benefits as long as they satisfy all of the conditions, including the requirement that they look for employment. There are other states that do not.

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