Furlough vs Sick Leave: Difference and Comparison

Key Takeaways

  1. Purpose: Furlough is an unpaid leave during financial hardships, while the sick leave is paid time off for illness.
  2. Compensation: Furlough does not provide regular salary or benefits, while sick leave includes a paid salary or a portion.
  3. Usage: Furlough affects a larger group and is scheduled, while the sick leave is individual-based and used for illness or medical reasons.

What is Furlough?

Furlough is to have a temporary leave from work. It is unpaid, which is given due to various reasons, such as economic strain and financial instability on the employer’s side.

Even though furloughed employees will not work and get paid, they will retain their employment status and be entitled to the benefits. This is where furlough is different from layoffs. During a furlough, the employees do not get paid. They can receive financial assistance from beneficial government schemes.

Legal bodies regulate furloughs. According to some states and regions, employers must give employees advanced notice before enforcing the furlough. Furlough provides employers a way to cut costs, but at the same time, it brings a hard time for the employees as their income source gets shut down.

What is Sick Leave?

Sick leave is paid time off. Employees get this leave when injured or ill and unable to work. Sick leave policies are not the same in every company. The employer makes the policy.

However, the duration of sick leave is not pre-set. It depends on the employee’s condition and how much time they might require to retrieve it. Most companies will ask for a medical certificate or doctor’s note before granting the leave.

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Every workspace should have the facility of sick leave. It is an important benefit for employees. It helps them to take some time out when they are ill. Job security is attached to it, and the pay is not sacrificed.

Sick leave should not get confused with paid vacation. In paid vacation, one gets time off from work and goes on holiday. But sick leave is health-related.

Some sick leave policies allow employees to take time off to attend to a sick family member. Generally, big companies offer this benefit, while small and micro businesses do not have any fixed rules.

Difference Between Furlough and Sick Leave

  1. Furlough is unpaid leave from work, whereas sick leave is paid leave.
  2. Employers issue furlough during an economic crisis, while employers issue sick leave during the sickness or medical condition of the employee.
  3. Furlough is done collectively in a group or team, while sick leaves are for an individual suffering from some ailment.
  4. Furlough is announced beforehand and comes with a specified period. On the other hand, sick leaves are unpredictable.
  5. Employers choose furloughs to reduce the workforce while financial hardship continues. On the contrary, sick leave aims to give sick or injured employees recovery time.

Comparison Between Furlough and Sick Leave

Parameter of ComparisonFurloughSick Leave
DescriptionIt is unpaid leave from work. Employers issue it during an economic crisis.It is paid leave from work. It is taken because of sickness or medical conditions.
The basis of leaveOccurs among the whole team or department; more than one employee gets this leave.Sick leave is individual.
OccurrenceGenerally, this is announced in advance within a specified period.Sick leaves are unpredictable with no prior notice.
PurposeThe purpose of furloughs is to reduce the workforce during financial hardship.The purpose of sick leave is to offer employees time to recover from an ailment or injury.
BenefitsThe furloughed employees can opt for government unemployment benefits.Employees on sick leave are not eligible for government unemployment programs.
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014292122001945
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/spol.12677
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Last Updated : 04 August, 2023

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