This is the key difference between ‘laid off’ and ‘furloughed’ you need to know

During the coronavirus pandemic, you may have heard the terms “fired”, “furloughed” and “laid off” being thrown around more than usual. While these terms have been around in the career world for years, they have become more prevalent due to the uncertainty with job security over the past few months. It’s easy to get them confused, but they all have very different meanings. 

Fired/Laid Off

Everyone understands what being “fired” means: you were let go from your job. The key factor here is understanding that you were let go because of something the company claims is your fault. 

This could be due to factors such as constant tardiness or not performing well enough. On the flip side of the coin, if you were “laid off”, the company recognizes that it is their fault and not yours. 

Unfortunately, if you are fired, you will most likely not be qualified for unemployment. Workers who are laid off due to company reasons are qualified to receive benefits.

If you were fired during the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. News and World Report says that you should get the reason for your termination in writing if you feel you have been wrongly terminated. If you continue to interview for new positions elsewhere, never speak poorly of your former employer. Simply provide a short, truthful explanation.

If you were laid off, try to speak with your HR manager about having them write you a letter of recommendation or asking if they have anyone in their network looking to hire.


Being furloughed means that you are still employed but are unable to work currently. You may be temporarily out of work but are expected to return to the company and your position at a later date. While you are technically not working or making an income when furloughed, it’s different from being laid off.

If you are laid off, the company would have to re-hire you. Being furloughed means you are still within the company’s system and won’t need to go through a re-hiring process. Because of this, you may still receive employee benefits during the time you aren’t working. 

You are also able to look for a side gig or other means of income while you aren’t at your regular job. Due to the current work from home situation, finding contractor jobs or freelance opportunities is a great option while you await to return to your normal job. 

There are a lot of terms that refer to employment status, but it’s crucial to be aware of what they all mean. Knowing the difference can help obtain unemployment benefits, where you stand with your company and how to plan for your next career move.