The COVID-19 relief packages have passed based on three fundamentals; (1) providing economic support to both businesses and individuals (2) keeping people employed, and (3) keeping people insured. Financing payroll may not be possible, after all it’s generally the largest expense. Companies may to need decide between a Layoff and Furlough.

Layoff (noun) – temporary or permanent separation of employment
Furlough (noun) – considered an alternative to a layoff, generally a short-term temporary layoff from employment
COVID-19 has forced many workers to either be laid-off(v) or furloughed(v).

When considering Furlough vs. Layoff, there are three reasons a furlough is viewed more favorable, especially under these circumstances.

      • Flexibility – because business reality is changing day to day and sometimes hour to hour, a furlough allows an employer the ability to reduce work days and/or hours of its employees all the way down to not working at all once it gets to that point.  But for those employers that are not yet at the point of having to make a final decision on cuts across the board, a furlough is a good option.
      • Employee Centric – employees who are laid off are cut off from benefits as per plan rules (which could be from the date of notice), once they are laid off. With a furlough being considered more like a leave of absence then a termination of employment, employers are able to provide benefits at a minimum for 30 days and can even opt to continue to pay for benefits throughout the duration of the furlough. In light of how this pandemic is affecting workers finances and health, doing so certainly signals that the Employer is making decisions with the employee impact in mind and not simply considering the bottom line.
      • Ability to Regain Ground Quickly – Once the crisis ends, and businesses are able to reopen, it’s going to be critical for businesses to be able to quickly staff back up to meet demands and furloughing employees rather than laying employees off and risking them seeking other employment due to the “permanency” that layoffs signal, would allow an employer to quickly bring back experienced, already trained employees to restart operations and servicing customers.

    Special thanks to Ivelices Thomas, HR & Beyond, for her input.


    Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.