Can You Receive Unemployment Benefits While on Furlough?


Unemployment benefits are regular checks paid by state governments to individuals who have recently been laid off or lost their jobs through reasons beyond their control. Generally, unemployment benefits are available only to people who have lost their jobs permanently. However, in some cases, benefits are available to individuals who are on furlough, which is a mandatory, unpaid leave of absence. As of September 2009, 18 states off benefits to workers who are on temporary furlough, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits are available to all types or workers who have lost their jobs—temporarily or permanently—as a means of keeping them afloat. Generally, a person is required to look for a new job while he is receiving benefits. However, an exception may be made for workers who are on furlough, as it is assured that they will be allowed to return to work.


When a worker is furloughed, he is required to take a leave of absence for work, for which he will be unpaid. However, unlike a laid-off worker, the furloughed worker can be assured that his unpaid period will only be temporary. Most furloughs are for finite periods of time, set in advance by the employer. For example, an employer may require that the employee be furloughed for several days or a week.

Receiving Payments

States that do offer benefits to workers may require a waiting period at the beginning of the term of unemployment before the person receives benefits. Pennsylvania and New York, for instance, require workers to not receive benefits for their first week of unemployment benefits. So, workers may not be eligible for benefits their first week of furloughed, in they are furloughed again in the next year, they will likely be able to receive benefits for this furloughed time.


According to the Society for Human Resource Management, as of September 2009, 32 states do not offer benefits for workers who are on furlough. Where the person would apply for regular unemployment benefits is an open questions. In≠ many cases, they will be denied because states require that individuals look for a new job while receiving benefits. Because furloughed workers are not looking for a new job, this may disqualify them from receiving benefits under the systems for dispensing benefits set by other states.

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