Most businesses in this country (and the world, for that matter) remain hobbled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Amazon is the exception. Another notable exception is Peloton, the exercise bike maker, which is glowing in its 172% surge in total revenue, with gains in subscribers and demand for its fitness products.) But employees in several industries, including travel, hospitality and entertainment, remain uncertain about their futures.
Many struggling but optimistic employers have continued to offer medical, dental and other benefits to employees on “furlough.” Before the pandemic, furlough was a concept more familiar to European countries, with furlough provisions mandated by law, than to U.S. employers. We’ve now settled on the concept that the employer has not severed the employment relationship of an employee on furlough (still active in the HR system) but the employee is not actively working and is not being paid except for the value of the benefits that the employer continues to provide.