As companies reopen their doors, many furloughed employees are wondering when they will return to work. While this depends on the industry in which you work, if you start to see your employer posting job positions, it may be time ask. A job posting does not necessarily mean that you are being replaced, but if it does, you should know your rights.
Were you Furloughed or Laid-Off?
A furloughed employee is an employee that is on mandatory, temporary and unpaid leave. If you are a furloughed employee, you most likely received communication from your company prior to being furloughed. It is the company’s intent to bring you back on payroll once they are able to do so.
A laid-off employee is an employee that is fully separated from the company. The company does not intend to bring you back on payroll. You may have received a severance package or COBRA benefits. If the company posts a position similar to yours, you must re-apply.
If you are a furloughed employee and you see a job posting similar to your position, don’t panic. If you work for a company with many employees in similar roles, some of your co-workers may have decided to leave and obtain work elsewhere. Your company may have plans to soon re-open and they may be looking to fill those positions for a future date.
If you know for certain that your co-workers have not obtained work elsewhere or that there are no other employees that share your position, you should contact human resources or your manager to address your concerns. If it turns out that your employer is replacing you with a new hire, they must first terminate you legally.
Furloughed Employee Rights
Furlough is typically used to avoid layoffs. Layoffs can be quite expensive for a company, from severance packages to the cost of interviewing and hiring new employees. Basically, it benefits the employer to place you on furlough over a termination. That being said, an employer has every right to turn a furlough into a layoff, as long the furloughed employee does not have a contract stating otherwise. However, if a furlough is turned into a termination, many employers must abide by state and federal laws.
If you work for a large employer, they may have to adhere to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act). The WARN Act requires employers with 100 or more full-time employees (not counting workers who have fewer than 6 months on the job) to provide at least 60 calendar days advance written notice of a worksite of a mass layoff affecting at least 50 employees and 1/3 of the worksite’s total workforce or 500 or more employees at the single site of employment during any 90-day period.