19 Jul, 2021

Comparing Furlough Vs Layoff

Comparing Furlough Vs Layoff
Written by: - Phil Baker

The key differences between Furlough vs Layoff can be summarized in the following table.



  • Furlough refers to when an employer temporarily suspends their employees under circumstances where they cannot manage to pay them.

  • Layoff means a permanent firing from a job, particularly because you, as an employer, think of someone’s work as non-essential and are drowning in terms of finances. 

  • Furlough must have some duration for which it would last and then the furloughed employees can be called back.

  • A layoff has no duration. All you do in laying off people is that you fire them politely, not telling them when they can come back or when they can’t. 

As a small business owner mingling with finances, you might have found yourself hanging between the common furlough vs layoff fiasco. While both of these act as good options for you to save up on money, choosing one over another is always a question with so many confusing answers. If you have not yet experienced adopting any of these, you might want to know the actual differences between the two.
With a clear perspective on furlough vs layoff, you can better decide as to which way is better to send off your employees and reduce the load on your finances that otherwise go in paying them. While we are at it, we strongly recommend you use services like pay stub maker to ease your payment tasks further.
Now, let us begin with breaking down furlough vs layoff from different angles and dynamics to aid your better understanding of the two models:

Furlough vs Layoff: What Are These?

Before we move ahead and distinguish layoff and furlough for their sub-aspects, it is worth our while to understand what these are and how they work. Let us first break down the two and then we will be good to go.


To define simply, furlough refers to when an employer temporarily suspends their employees under circumstances where they cannot manage to pay them. The furloughed employees are not paid anything for the time they are not working with an organization. However, most of these furloughed employees return after some time and start being paid for their work too.
Mostly, business owners furlough their non-essential employees to save the money that is otherwise going in paying them for something the owners of any other employee can do. Furloughing practice is also quite common with government agencies too. Even when people are not paid when they have been furloughed, as an employer you can, in fact, have to; allow your furloughed employees to enjoy other benefits that the company has been previously giving them.
Mostly, furloughed employees are entitled not to work anywhere during the furloughed period. This is because the kind of expertise they have required at your workplace can not be found in a new employee. Hence, you want them to come back and that is only possible if they are being advantaged in one way or the other while you have them off the paycheque.


Do not let the decade-old practices confuse you about Layoffs being similar to Furloughs. Indeed, layoffs initially meant temporary dismissals of employees when an organization of business is running out of finances. Back in the day, laid-off employees were not granted any benefits of pay during their temporary termination.
However, they still were promised a chance of return upon the business or organization getting back on its financial track. Now layoff does mean a permanent firing from a job, particularly because you, as an employer, think of someone’s work as non-essential and are drowning in terms of finances. Hence, finding that, you think of it as perfectly fine to fire some people, promising them no benefits and no chances of return.
The laid-off employee will break free from your organization and are not entitled to not apply for any other job. Since you are not even paying them with any benefits of panels, you do not have to expect that they will wait for you and will come back whenever you call them back.
Mostly, you fire bulks of non-essential employees when your business is going down. Doing so, you are basically trying your best to save and again gain the needed financial stability for your business. When you send off so many non-essential or extra employees all at once, it is called mass layoff. We suggest you do not do that because it is often very tormenting to so many households that are solely running on one person’s paycheques.
Make sure you take the needed steps to cater to your business’s finances in time so you do not have to go to the extreme of laying off so many people together. If you ever make a plan to rehire someone laid off previously, you will have to properly follow the entire hiring process as if they are here with you for the first time.

Furlough Vs Layoff: Duration

You can already tell that a layoff has no duration. All you do in laying off people is that you fire them politely, not telling them when they can come back or when they can’t. However, you can’t say the same for furlough, meaning it must have some duration for which it would last and then the furloughed employees can be called back.
However, no one can tell how long a furlough can last. Interestingly, even you while furloughing cannot tell whether or not you will be calling the person back or not. Moreover, furlough’s duration for each employee type under the same circumstances would be different from one another depending on what kind of work they had in the organization.
Typically, the duration of furlough depends on the kind of financial restraints under which you decide to take such a step. If the restraint is not too intense and you are just furloughing people as a precaution, the duration would be a bit less. On the other hand, furloughs can go on for as long as one year or more if it was done in a state of emergency or intense financial restraints being faced by the organization.
Depending on the situation, we suggest you do not tell the employee anything about how long they will have to wait before they can come back no matter what. This saves you from the extra stress of fulfilling your word and calling all those people back before the time is right just because they are waiting on you.

Furlough Vs Layoff: Benefits

Obviously, both furlough and layoffs are done when you need to save your business and hence both of these will have obvious benefits. Knowing about both the layoff as well as the furlough benefits can help you choose the better option for yourself easily. Hence, we are summing up, rather describing, the biggest pros your business can have from going for either of these:

Furlough Benefits

Yes, you can surely save up a lot of money that otherwise goes into paying the employees who you are furloughing. That is not enough as a reason to force you into keeping people waiting. Some other, more amazing furlough benefits no one will tell you about are as follows:

  1. Saves You From All Those Hiring Troubles

You have surely hired a number of people in the past and you know how much or trouble the hiring process in itself is. If you think it is just about interviewing people over a cup of tea and nothing much, please ask your HR and they will tell you how many resources your business is wasting in lieu of hiring every other month.
Thanks to whoever introduced furloughs, you do not have to spend your time and energy hiring new people after your business is getting back on track. You can simply call the furloughed ones and they will most probably start coming back to the office as nothing happened. This also saves you from spending your time training new people.
Ultimately, your work after the furlough period starts as speedily as it can with minimal risk and more chances of perfection.

  1. The Employees Aren’t Abandoned

Probably one of the best things about every Furlough Vs Layoff comparison is that you get to know how the former benefits the person being fired too. You are entitled to let your employees use the benefits and coverages that they previously had before furlough, meaning they still have something to count on without being paid.

3. Your Friendly Employer-Employee Ties Remain

This is one of the biggest benefits for both parties. Often done in times of tribulation, furloughs let you maintain your good ties with the people who you are firing under unavoidable circumstances. Both you, as well as you fired employees, understand each other’s problems and look forward to meeting each other again in the same office when things get better. Is that not amazing?

Layoff Benefits

Now, let us look at how firing people permanently can benefit you. Below are some of the top Layoff pros you might never have heard of:

1. Saves Money

Imagine not having to pay so many people that are currently getting a considerable amount from you each month. Not just this but imagine not even having to provide them any coverage after they are exempted from their job role. What can you see here coming? Lots of savings, right? Well, this is a reason more employees take to layoffs. They do not care about what the future hirings might look like.
Rather, they focus on the time being and layoffs bring them some solid monetary advantages for that time.

2. The Employees Are Not Bound

You can let your employees clearly detach themselves from your organization and this provides them a chance to experience their own life, their way. This keeps you off the burden of having people dependent on you and you will be relieved while letting them go.

3. At times, Lay Offs Are The Most Respectable Farewells

With furloughs, you can’t be really sure whether you will ever be able to call back your employees at all. This often causes a lot of annoyance to them and becomes a cause of shame for you too. With employees furloughed for years, your business’s reputation goes down and you make for yourself a very bad name eventually.
It is best that you rather lay them off so you don’t have to worry about your reputation while you strive to get better at your finances. With these benefits of both furlough and layoff in mind, you can see which of the steps suits your needs better. No matter which of these you will pick to apply in your workplace, you will, at the end of the day, find a way or two in which the other option was better.
In short, there is no such thing as perfection when you are trying to find a way out for your business’s finances and its reputation as well as your employees’ sentiments. You always have to swallow a hard pill to be able to painlessly taste the fruit later on. Make sure you think, rationalize, compare, contrast, and then take a final decision of whether you would like your employees furloughed or fired.

Furlough Vs Layoff: Disadvantages

Like every other thing in comparison, both furlough and layoff have their own disadvantages too. Again, we suggest carefully comparing these and then deciding which one is less or more harmful for your business. So, let us quickly sum up both these for their disadvantages below:

Furlough Cons

At times, furlough laws dictated by the government are tricky and the process can get too long or annoying. Most of the furloughed employees find it better to quit and settle somewhere else rather than waiting for you to call them back. When people are furloughed, they leave the staff behind with very low morale and energy. Having to see your colleagues leave all of a sudden is quite emotional and can affect people’s productivity.

Layoff Cons

Rehiring new people after you have terminated the old ones is a pain you don’t have to go through. It is both a waste of your money and time as well as the energy that you need to invest in your business’s upheaval. You might lay off someone who is extra good to your company and can never be replaced if you do not lay off people selectively and wisely.
You are actually buying bad repute for your brand by laying off people who will never trust your company or you again.

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