What Is the Difference Between a Furlough and a Layoff?

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The media is constantly reporting on stories about layoffs or furloughs, but what is the difference between the two?

Rebecca Rose Woodland, legal analyst and litigator, joined TheStreet to break it down.

Watch the full video above for more.

Video Transcript:

Katherine Ross:
So what exactly is the difference between a furlough and a layoff? Well, Rebecca Rose Woodland litigator and legal analyst joins me today to break down exactly what that difference is. So Rebecca, what is the legal difference?

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
So that's a great question because it's so applicable right now. A layoff is basically when your job is terminated. Your job, your benefits, you're not going to return to that employer again. That immediately clicks your opportunity. It starts your process to attempt to get state unemployment. It also will allow you to get money as a result of the stimulus package that was passed last week by Congress and signed into law by the president.

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
A furlough is something a little different. It's basically a leave of absence. And there are some varying thoughts on a furlough. Some employees maintain their health benefits for a certain amount of time, some are paid by the employer, paid by the employee, unions negotiate different aspects of furlough. But the most important, consistent aspect of a furlough is that your job remains. So when this situation, like we're seeing now with the pandemic, when it ceases and when the stores reopened or the business is reopened, you will be reemployed.

Katherine Ross:
What rights do I have if I'm a furloughed employee?

Rebecca Rose Woodland:
So as a furloughed employee, right now, if you're furloughed with the COVID, Coronavirus situation, what I am seeing is that the stimulus package will apply to you. So not only may you be able to obtain your state unemployment benefits, and every state differs, you may be able to retain your health benefits. Again, that will differ between your union's negotiations and your employer relations and contract with the employees. But a standard across the country will be that furloughed employees will be able to make use of the money available in the stimulus package. So they should immediately look into applying for that package and that relief.

Katherine Ross:
Rebecca, thank you for joining us today. And for more on the Coronavirus pandemic, please head on over to TheStreet.com.

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