Thursday brought still another busy day of news as increased testing in Connecticut brought a big jump in numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

We’re starting to hear about employers considering furloughing employees instead of simply laying them off.

(Though the numbers of layoffs in Connecticut is over 54,000 — since Friday.)

In general terms, a furlough that some are considering would involve setting an employee to “zero hours” in schedule and not paying him or her a salary. (There are different types of furloughs, to be fair.) Sort of like an unpaid leave of absence, if you will.

But the employee would still be eligible under some health insurance plans to remain on the company plan with the company and employee still contributing the same amounts as during regular employment.

This option is attractive to some because of concerns that a loss of job might result in a COVID-19 related illness left uncovered by insurance.  It also avoids the “you’re fired” feeling that comes with a layoff and avoids having to then rehire the employee (with paperwork) in a few months.  He or she is still your employee.

This option isn’t perfect and may be limited by the language under the plan itself. But for employers looking for any option might think about that.  There are other options too, such as reducing an employee’s hours or salary. Be sure to talk these options through with your attorney.

In other Thursday developments: