According to TheStreet:
“An employee furlough is a mandatory suspension from work without pay. It can be as brief or as long as the employer wants.”
Unlike what happens in layoffs, employees often keep benefits during furlough and are expected to return to work after the furlough period. Nevertheless, they are also allowed to look for other work and collect unemployment benefits during this time.
The No Work Rule
Under the “No Work Rule,” furloughed employees are not allowed to work on behalf of their employer. Even making a phone call or answering emails can break the zero-tolerance No Work Rule.
So, what happens if your employer asks you to work while furloughed? In short, they are asking you to commit furlough fraud.
What Is Furlough Fraud?
In many cases, companies furlough employees because they have fallen on hard times. As such, they may be applying for or receiving special support from the government. While furloughed employees can collect unemployment, employers may not use these state- and federally provided benefits as a makeshift salary and ask employees to work. When employers “double-dip” into relief funds, they are committing furlough fraud.
Asking employees to work without pay is also against the law to prevent employee exploitation. That being said, sometimes all employers need is a gentle written reminder.
If you have been asked to commit furlough fraud, here are some steps you can take:
- Complain, in writing, to your employer – and include HR
- Speak to an employment lawyer about your options
- File a whistleblower complaint against the company
A survey by Crossland Employment Solicitors recently revealed that about 34% of employees have been asked to work during (Covid-19-related) furlough. Sadly, some employers have threatened termination – and even deportation – if workers do not comply.
In situations like these, it is important to remember that you have rights. If your employer is stealing from you or the government, you need to speak up.
Donati Law, PLLC can help you understand your legal options during this difficult time.
Call us at (901) 209-5500 to discuss your situation or fill out our contact form, and we will be in touch.
Our legal team has over 150 years of collective experience. We treat our clients like family, and we are ready to provide you with the compassionate care and legal advice you need – call or click today.