Career Advice

Furlough Survival Guide: Tips and Tricks to Help You Get Through

If you have been through a furlough or believe you will be laid off, you may be beginning to wonder what this means for your earnings and employment prospects. Knowing what a furlough is and what you should do if you get one could assist you in being prepared if it happens to you. In this blog entry, we will answer a number of the most common questions concerning what it means to be furloughed.

What Is a Furlough?

A furlough is an unsalaried (or reduced) momentary leave of absence from someone’s work. In challenging times, numerous businesses choose to furlough staff members rather than eliminate roles or cut staff. This strategy is employed to support rescuing jobs, safeguard an organization’s bottom line, and make it stay ahead of the competition immediately after the market goes up. 

A leave of absence is necessary to decrease working days or work suspension without wages from a company as a substitute for employees being laid off. Employers typically furlough workers as a cost-cutting method of avoiding sacking workers who cannot be paid as customary. Furloughs also save the business money on recruitment processes, employment, and new staff training because furloughed workers can come back to their jobs and carry on working as usual.

Furloughed employees could be qualified for unemployment benefits, and extra advantages are accessible.

The Difference Between a Layoff and a Furlough

A layoff and a furlough are both employment situations where employees temporarily stop working, but there are important differences between the two:


A furlough is a leave of absence from one’s job. Whenever a worker is furloughed, they expect to return to their job whenever the leave of absence comes to an end.

What occurs to compensation and benefits depends on your business’s benefit programs. Your life and health insurance perks would often keep going when you are furloughed. Inquire with your HR department or supervisor about the insurance you would retain.

  1. Temporary Leave: A furlough is a temporary, unpaid leave of absence from work. During a furlough, employees are still considered employed by the company but are not actively working and are not receiving their regular pay.
  2. Expected Return: Furloughed employees are generally expected to return to work once the furlough period ends, and business operations return to normal. The return date is often specified in advance, although it may be subject to change based on circumstances.
  3. Benefits: While on furlough, employees may continue to receive certain benefits, such as healthcare coverage, depending on company policies and local regulations. Some employers may cover these benefits fully, while others may require employees to cover a portion of the costs.
  4. Unemployment Eligibility: In some cases, furloughed employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits during the furlough period, depending on local regulations. The eligibility criteria and benefits provided vary by jurisdiction.
  5. Continuation of Employment: Furloughed employees remain employees of the company, and their employment relationship continues during the furlough. This distinguishes furloughs from layoffs, where the employment relationship is often terminated.


Recruitment is terminated as a result of a layoff. The laid-off employee would no longer qualify for medical insurance or other compensation and benefits offered by the organization. There are, however, possibilities for maintaining health insurance.

  1. Permanent vs. Temporary: A layoff typically implies a permanent separation of employment. In other words, when an employee is laid off, it’s often with the understanding that there is no expectation of returning to work for the same employer.
  2. No Guaranteed Return: Layoffs do not guarantee reemployment. If the company’s financial situation improves or if new positions become available, laid-off employees may reapply or be rehired, but there’s no guarantee of this happening.
  3. Benefits: Laid-off employees may be eligible for certain benefits, such as unemployment compensation and continued access to certain company benefits like healthcare (through COBRA in the United States), depending on company policies and local regulations.
  4. Severance Pay: Some employers provide severance pay to laid-off employees as a financial cushion during their job search or transition. The amount and terms of severance pay vary by company policy.

In summary, the primary difference between a layoff and a furlough is the permanence of the separation and the expectation of returning to work. Layoffs typically indicate a more permanent separation, while furloughs are temporary leaves of absence with the expectation of returning to work once business conditions improve. The specific terms and implications of both layoffs and furloughs can vary based on company policies, employment contracts, and local labor laws.

Are Furloughs Legally Permitted?

Businesses have the authority to change your hours of work, just as they possess the power to dismiss you.

Taking a leave of absence can be aggravating, particularly when you have to live from paycheck to paycheck or are experiencing difficulties in making a decent living. Nevertheless, it is generally preferred to the alternative, which could entail losing your employment.

Furloughs are generally legally permitted in many countries, provided that they comply with labor laws and regulations. However, the specifics of furloughs can vary widely depending on the jurisdiction and the employment contract in place. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Labor Laws: Labor laws and regulations vary from country to country and sometimes even within regions or states. These laws govern aspects of employment, including layoffs, furloughs, and employee rights. Employers must comply with applicable labor laws when implementing furloughs.
  2. Employment Contracts: Employment contracts or collective bargaining agreements may contain provisions related to furloughs or temporary layoffs. Employers and employees are typically bound by the terms of these contracts, and any furloughs must adhere to contract provisions.
  3. Notice and Consultation: In some jurisdictions, employers are required to provide advance notice to employees before implementing a furlough. Consultation with employee representatives or unions may also be necessary, depending on the circumstances.
  4. Duration and Conditions: Labor laws or regulations may specify the maximum duration of a furlough and the conditions under which it can be implemented. These conditions may relate to economic reasons, seasonal work, or other factors.
  5. Benefits: During a furlough, employees may be entitled to certain benefits, such as healthcare coverage. The continuation of benefits often depends on company policies and local regulations. Some jurisdictions require employers to maintain benefits during a furlough.
  6. Unemployment Benefits: Furloughed employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits during the furlough period, depending on local regulations and individual circumstances.
  7. Return to Work: Furloughs are typically implemented with the expectation that employees will return to work once the temporary leave period ends. Employers should communicate the expected return date and any changes in work conditions or schedules.
  8. Record-Keeping: Employers are often required to maintain records of furloughs, including the reasons for the furlough, the duration, and the impact on employee compensation and benefits.

It’s essential for employers and employees to be aware of their rights and responsibilities regarding furloughs and to comply with applicable laws and agreements. Consulting with legal counsel or HR professionals who are knowledgeable about local labor laws can be helpful when implementing furloughs to ensure compliance and fairness.

It’s important to note that the specific regulations and legal requirements related to furloughs can vary significantly between countries and regions, so individuals and employers should seek guidance from legal experts or government labor agencies when implementing furloughs.

What You Should Do When You’re Furloughed?

Being furloughed can be a challenging and uncertain situation, but there are proactive steps you can take to manage the impact and make the most of your time during the temporary leave. Here’s what you should do when you’re furloughed:

Understand the Terms of the Furlough

Communicate with your employer or HR department to clarify the details of your furlough, including the expected duration, any continued benefits, and the anticipated return-to-work date.

Review Your Finances

Another critical step to take is to assess your present financial circumstances.  For instance, consider whether you currently have any savings or other income sources. You must develop new weekly spending habits after you’ve gained a solid knowledge of your financial position. As you go through your monthly bills, keep track of the ones you could cut out immediately to save cash, like subscriptions or gyms.

Assess your financial situation and create a budget to manage your expenses during the furlough period. Prioritize essential bills and explore ways to reduce non-essential spending.

Apply for Unemployment Benefits (If Applicable)

One thing you must do is see if you’re capable of applying for unemployment compensation since this could be an instant income source for you. There may be choices offered to individuals who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. Because each state handles unemployment benefits differently, confirm your country’s unemployment desk webpage for eligibility rules and application guidelines.

Depending on your jurisdiction and eligibility, consider applying for unemployment benefits to help replace some of your lost income. Follow the application process outlined by your local unemployment office.

Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile

Use this time to update your resume and LinkedIn profile with your most recent accomplishments and experiences. Highlight your skills and achievements to make yourself more marketable.

Professional Development

Explore online courses, webinars, or certification programs related to your field or areas of interest. Enhancing your skills during the furlough can improve your job prospects.

Network and Stay Connected

Maintain connections with colleagues, mentors, and industry contacts. Networking can lead to potential job opportunities or valuable insights into the job market.

Explore Gig Work or Freelancing

Depending on your circumstances and skills, consider freelance or gig work to generate income during the furlough. Websites and platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, or freelancing groups on social media can be helpful.

Stay Informed

Stay updated on developments related to your industry and the job market. Knowledge of industry trends and job openings can give you an advantage when seeking new opportunities.

Take Care of Your Well-being

Use this time to prioritize self-care. Engage in activities that promote physical and mental well-being, such as exercise, meditation, hobbies, and spending time with loved ones.

Volunteer or Give Back

Consider volunteering for charitable organizations or community initiatives. Volunteering can be a fulfilling way to use your skills and time constructively while making a positive impact.

Prepare for Your Return

Stay in touch with your employer and colleagues to stay informed about any updates. Use the time to prepare for your return to work, such as organizing your workspace and reviewing any pending projects.

Improve your abilities.

Look for opportunities to enhance your set of skills as you submit resumes for new jobs. There are numerous low-no-cost online choices for enhancing your skill sets, and some businesses are even providing paid courses at no cost to support individuals during their leave of absence. Make making preparations for your forthcoming job one of your top priorities during your furlough.

Seek Guidance and Support

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or uncertain about your situation, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from career counselors, financial advisors, or mental health professionals who can provide support and advice tailored to your needs.

Begin applying for other positions.

In summary, you have always had the privilege to look for work somewhere else when on a leave of absence, you should think about considering doing so because your company may be under no commitment to bring you back. Begin by upgrading your CV to position yourself for an effective job hunt in today’s market.

Remember that a furlough is typically a temporary situation, and with proactive steps and a positive outlook, you can navigate this period of uncertainty and prepare for a successful return to the workforce.

How Does a Furlough Affect Me?

A furlough can have several effects on an employee, both in terms of their employment and personal finances. Here are some key ways in which a furlough may affect you:

  1. Temporary Unpaid Leave: During a furlough, you are typically placed on a temporary, unpaid leave of absence from work. This means you will not receive your regular salary or wages for the duration of the furlough.
  2. Temporary Suspension of Work: While on furlough, you are not expected to perform your job duties. Your work responsibilities are temporarily suspended, and you are not required to report to work or work remotely during this period.
  3. Continuation of Employment: Despite being on furlough, you remain an employee of the company, and your employment relationship continues. This distinguishes furloughs from layoffs, where the employment relationship is often terminated.
  4. Benefits: The impact on your benefits can vary. Some employers may continue to provide certain benefits, such as healthcare coverage, during a furlough, while others may require you to cover a portion or all of the costs. It’s essential to clarify the status of your benefits with your employer.
  5. Unemployment Benefits: Depending on your jurisdiction and individual circumstances, you may be eligible to apply for unemployment benefits during the furlough period. These benefits can provide temporary financial support to help cover essential expenses.
  6. Return to Work: Furloughs are typically implemented with the expectation that employees will return to work once the temporary leave period ends. Employers should communicate the expected return date and any changes in work conditions or schedules.
  7. Financial Impact: A furlough can have a significant financial impact, as it involves a temporary loss of income. It’s essential to assess your financial situation, create a budget, and explore available resources, such as savings or government assistance programs, to help manage expenses during the furlough.
  8. Communication: Maintain open communication with your employer or HR department during the furlough. Stay informed about any updates, changes, or developments related to your furlough status and return to work.
  9. Use of Time: While on furlough, consider using your time productively. You might explore opportunities for professional development, update your resume or LinkedIn profile, or engage in personal enrichment activities.

It’s important to note that the specific impact of a furlough can vary depending on your employment contract, company policies, local labor laws, and the duration of the furlough. If you have questions or concerns about the effects of a furlough on your specific situation, consider reaching out to your HR department or seeking guidance from legal or financial professionals who can provide personalized advice.


In conclusion, a furlough can be a challenging period, but with the right strategies and mindset, you can not only survive but thrive during this temporary leave. By taking proactive steps to manage your finances, invest in your skills, and prioritize self-care, you can emerge from the furlough stronger and better prepared for the opportunities that lie ahead. Stay resilient, stay connected, and remember that this too shall pass, and brighter days in your career await.

Frequently Asked Questions about a leave of absence

  • When you’re furloughed, will you still receive salaries?

No, if your organization makes you take a leave of absence, you won’t be paid. Nevertheless, you could continue to work for the organization, which implies you could keep your perks, such as prospective access to any life and health insurance that you originally had through your company.

  • Can you come back to work after your leave of absence?

Except for workers who’ve been completely laid off, furloughed workers usually anticipate returning to work sometime in the future. Furloughed workers are frequently given a particular date or requirement that needs to be fulfilled to allow them to resume their previous roles. Workers who have been furloughed might be permitted to retain their level of authority and resume their jobs for the same salary as before taking a leave of absence.

Based on your circumstances, you may be required to plan for an income loss. If your leave of absence is extended, you might have to look for a long-term extra revenue source, like part-time work. If you only have a week or 2, you could focus on saving now and take into account trying to pick up temporary employment throughout your furlough.

Nevertheless, when you are bound by a contract of employment that prevents you from working elsewhere, you will be unable to work at a contract job.

  • How would taking a leave of absence influence my objectives?

If you’re attempting to get rid of loans and are putting additional revenue toward loan repayments, you might need to place this aim on hold to accumulate funds for any furloughs or layoffs.

Depending on the magnitude of your loans, you might wish to postpone making the payments till you know if you’ll be furloughed or, worse, fired. It is also critical that you keep a three-month rainy day fund set.

  • Can I work elsewhere during a furlough?

Whether you can work elsewhere during a furlough depends on your employment contract and local labor laws. In some cases, employers may permit employees to seek temporary or part-time employment while on furlough, while others may have restrictions. It’s crucial to clarify this with your employer and, if needed, consult with legal or HR professionals to ensure compliance.

  • Do I continue to accrue benefits while on furlough?

The impact on benefits during a furlough can vary. Some employers may continue to provide certain benefits, such as healthcare coverage, while others may require employees to cover a portion or all of the costs. The continuation of benefits often depends on company policies and local regulations. It’s important to inquire about the status of your benefits with your employer or HR department to understand what is provided during the furlough.

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