What Does Furlough Mean?

What does furlough mean? What are the differences between getting laid-off?

While economists predict the Coronavirus will have long-term damage to the U.S. economy, COVID-19 is having an immediate impact on millions of Americans and thousands are getting furloughed.

What does furlough mean?

  • According to Merriam-Webster, furlough means  “to cease to employ (a worker) often temporarily.” The dictionary company points out that furlough is often used as a nice way to say, fire, otherwise removing someone from a job for an indefinite period of time.

Given the ambiguity of the term, the word’s definition will depend upon how it is used. More specifically, if a company says they are furloughing their staff for an indefinite period of time, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, they are technically fired from their job.

Furlough in America

This week, Macy’s furloughed nearly 130,000 of their workforce. Macy’s announced it’s furloughing most of its workforce, including nearly 130,000 employees. Workers will continue to receive health benefits until the end of May 2020.

“Across Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and Bluemercury [beauty] brands, we will be moving to the absolute minimum workforce needed to maintain basic operations,” the retailer said Monday.

Since March 18, all of Macy’s closed their stories. The company says they will stay closed “until we have [a] clear line of sight on when it is safe to reopen.” That said, their online retail business is still open, but the company said they lost a majority of their sales due to store closures.

Meanwhile, SeaWorld Entertainment announced they will furlough 90% of their employees.

On Friday, SeaWorld Entertainment announced the company would furlough more than 90% of its employees by April 1.

The mass-furlough and park closures come as the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, and businesses continue to furlough and layoff employees due to the virus’s impact on business.

Busch Gardens announced a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Employees will be eligible for unemployment, and the furlough is indefinite until “business conditions” improve.


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