Layoffs and furloughs are often used interchangeably in everyday conversations, but there is a key difference between being furloughed and being laid off. The main difference between the two is the potential to return to work.
Laid-off employees are entitled to final pay, which may include any bonuses, accrued but unused vacation time, and earned wages at the time of termination. Being furloughed, on the other hand, is essentially a pause and does not trigger the employer’s final pay requirements under California law. However, your employer cannot place you on leave indefinitely and call it a furlough. There are time limits for furloughs.
When are furloughed workers entitled to final pay?
Generally, in California, a furlough is not supposed to extend more than 10 days or beyond the employee’s normal pay period when the furlough began. If the furlough does extend beyond that, the employer must pay the employee final wages. For example, if your furlough extends past the next pay period after you were furloughed, then you should consider yourself terminated (or laid off), and so should your employer. In this case, you should contact your employer and ask for your final pay as well as a notice of termination. If your work provided health benefits to you, you should also get COBRA or Cal-Cobra information.
Does my employer have to notify me of a layoff or furlough?
Larger employers are required to provide at least 60 days’ advance written notice of certain layoffs, furloughs and worksite closures. California’s WARN Act requires this notification from employers with 75 or more employees.
Get legal guidance
You may not know what you’re entitled to under the law if you get furloughed or laid off, so talking to an employment law attorney could help you get any compensation that your employer has failed to provide. If you have questions about wage and hour law, reach out to a California employment law attorney.