Furlough vs layoff

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What’s the difference between a furlough and a layoff?

According to Dictionary.com, https://www.dictionary.com/e/furlough-vs-layoff/a furlough is a temporary leave of absence from work imposed by an employer. Furloughed workers typically aren’t paid but keep employment benefits such as health insurance, so technically they remain employees.

Layoffs are when an employer dismisses employees.  Employers often decide to furlough, rather than lay off, workers because firing and hiring people is costly.

Furloughed employees may receive unemployment benefits for the time they spend without pay.  If they later receive back pay for their time on furlough, they must repay the unemployment benefits.

During the current COVID-19 crisis, people who qualify for unemployment are receiving their state’s typical unemployment benefit plus a $600 per week Federal unemployment benefit that lasts for 39 weeks.

The timeshare wrinkle

When timeshare resorts that shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic begin to reopen, they will need housekeepers, many of whom work only one day a week to clean the units between occupants.  However, the way this crisis unemployment program is structured, the mere offer of a part-time housekeeping job is more of a curse than a blessing for furloughed and laid-off workers alike.

If your resort furloughed its workers, and they receive unemployment benefits, they will lose those benefits when you end the furlough and bring them back for a fraction of what they received when not working. If they refuse to return, they may lose their unemployment benefits anyway.

If your resort laid off its workers at the onset of the shutdown, you will need to hire or rehire housekeepers—if you can find people willing to take those part-time jobs at a wage you can afford to pay. Anyone who turns down a job under these circumstances also risks losing unemployment benefits.

Still another complication exists for resorts that need more housekeepers during their peak season than at other times of year due to a large seasonal fluctuation in occupancy. That makes the offer of a part-time housekeeping job even less desirable.

Says one resort general manager: “I think it’s great to have this safety net for people, but I think it will disincentivize the people I need to take part-time jobs.  That’s just human nature.”

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