Partner John R. Vreeland and Counsel Brigette N. Eagan discuss legal obligations facing employers as they relate to temporary furloughs and permanent layoffs in recent HR Daily Advisor article entitled, "Continuing Pandemic Blurring the Line Between Furloughs, Layoffs." Their discussion focuses on considerations of paid time off and benefits during furloughs and layoffs, avoidance of discrimination claims, and statutory obligations when a temporary furlough develops into a layoff.
Back in the spring when businesses across the country first fell victim to COVID-19, many employers chose to furlough workers temporarily rather than lay them off permanently. But now, with the pandemic dragging on, some furloughs are extending much longer than originally expected, triggering employer obligations under federal and state laws.
In many cases, both employees and employers braced themselves for furloughs lasting just a few weeks or even a few months. Now, though, attorneys who advise employers are fielding questions about how to proceed. It starts with an understanding of how temporary furloughs can become permanent layoffs in the eyes of the law.
Counsel Ms. Eagan and Partner John Vreeland explain that a furlough is an unpaid leave of absence where employees maintain their employed status even though they aren’t working. A layoff is an involuntary separation of the employment relationship. Under both scenarios, workers are likely to qualify for unemployment benefits.
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