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The Difference Between Lay-Off Vs. Furloughs for Employees

As some of my clients make the decision to shut down business, I wanted to clarify a lay-off vs. a furlough so you can make an informed decision. 


  • A lay-off is a termination of employment. 

  • The employee is entitled to their final paycheck, including all accrued vacation, PTO, on the date of termination. 


  • A furlough is a temporary cessation of work (temporary lay-off), but the individual remains an employee. 

  • Wages are paid on the regular pay date (if they had any hours worked). 

  • A furloughed employee, even if not performing any work, will be eligible for the expanded FMLA paid leave and paid sick leave when Families First goes into effect. 

Changes to California Unemployment & Disability Benefits

  • No one-week waiting period for either unemployment or disability benefits. 

  • Work hours are reduced (including down to zero), temporarily laid off, or if subject to a quarantine. 

  • Providing childcare for a child whose school/daycare is shut down, or if the employee is concerned about exposure to COVID-19. 

  • Hours are reduced or are temporarily laid off but expect to return to work after the COVID-19 crisis is over, does not have to look for work. 

Remember that only the state of CA can make the decision on eligibility for unemployment. Please do not discourage employees from applying. Questions? Call me at (530) 386-3066 or email me at

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