What are the differences between a furlough and a layoff?

There are four key differences between a furlough and a layoff: 

(1) Furloughed employees have an expectation that they will return to work. Typically, an employer will give furloughed employees either a specific date or a specific condition for resuming duties. 

(2) Furloughed employees typically retain access to any health and life insurance during the furlough. 

(3) A furloughed public employee retains their employment rights. Government employees cannot be fired or replaced without process. For a public employee who has been furloughed, rather than laid off, this means that they have a presumptive right to return to that position if they choose and it exists. 

(4) A furlough is relatively seamless. Laying off employees requires significant process, as does hiring new staff. This can be time consuming and expensive. By contrast, a furloughed employee can come and go fairly easily.

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