By Joshua Huff, sports editor
As the number of furloughed workers increase throughout the nation as a result of businesses closing their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people are left to wonder what exactly does it mean to be furloughed and what can be done to pay the bills and buy groceries.
So what exactly does it mean to be furloughed: It means that you are now on mandatory, temporarily unpaid leave. As a furloughed worker, you are technically still an employee, but the company currently has no work for you. The measure differs from laying off workers. Once a person is let go, the company will usually offer the individual severance pay and completely cut ties with the individual.
Once furloughed, workers will cease to be paid, but once production recommences, the company will bring them back on with the same income and job position.
Furloughed workers can collect unemployment benefits during the time they are not working, and the benefits will vary by state. The new stimulus package that was passed by Congress and signed by the president offers those eligible an additional $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits. Once a furloughed worker returns to work, those benefits would end.
It’s advised to immediately file for unemployment as there’s typically a one-to-two-week waiting period before the payments kick in; however, many states are facing a backlog of claims because of the coronavirus.
The Alabama Department of Labor announced on Monday that the state has paid more than $6 million in coronavirus related unemployment compensation benefits in just one week alone.
Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said that a total of $6,035,696 was paid between March 27 – April 3 to 22,646 claimants, which is out of 25,379 total number of individuals filing for unemployment benefits. That number represents nearly 67% of all unemployment compensation benefits paid in the past seven days.
“We have seen an overwhelming number of employees filing claims for unemployment compensation benefits,” Washington said. “We understand and realize that many people are having trouble applying – we are working on correcting the situation constantly, and more and more people are getting through with each day that passes. We are working hard to get the benefits into the pockets of those Alabamians who need them the most right now.”
The department of labor added that claimants will receive funds through direct deposit, an existing debit card (from a previous UC claim) or via a new debit card. Payment may take up to as many as 21 days, but should generally be received sooner.
Certain companies are also choosing to continue the health care benefits for those workers furloughed for a set period of time. Yet, that depends on the company and its policies. Some workers might qualify for health care coverage through COBRA, but that is typically an expensive venture.
Just be sure to remain in touch with your employer while furloughed and ask whom to speak with should any situations arise.