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Furloughed: Suddenly Millions of Workers Have Time Off

Employee reaction to furloughs varies greatly. “Some workers look forward to the time off, others, who may desperately need the money, take it very badly,” says Steve Palazzolo, a labor attorney and senior counsel at the Grand Rapids, Mich., office of Warner Norcross & Judd. Often, he adds, the reaction will depend on how workers hear about the furlough from their boss. “Does the employer just walk in one day and announce it, or were the employees first explained the situation and asked for their input?”

The bright side to all this is that getting furloughed may be a better alternative than getting laid off. “Most of the employers instituting furloughs are hoping that once production increases, the furloughs will no longer be necessary,” says human resource consultant Berman.

But there’s a danger of complacency on the part of furloughed employees, warns Palazzolo. “Generally speaking, companies don’t cut their way to prosperity,” he says. “If you work in private industry, and you are given a furlough, you may take that as a warning that your employer is in trouble, and layoffs are more than likely coming.”

If your employer deals you an indefinite furlough with no firm date to report back to work, says Palazzolo, that especially should be cause to get your resumé polished and your interview suit clean and pressed.

Russell Wild is a financial planner and writes about business and the economy. He lives in Allentown, Pa.


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