Furlough Response: What To Say When You’re Furloughed (+ Examples)

Apr 9, 2020

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Career Expert, ZipJob

An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.

With the COVID-19 response in full-swing and mandatory business shutdowns in effect across the U.S., many employees are finding themselves furloughed from their jobs. For most, this is the first time they’ve experienced a forced unpaid leave of absence. As a result, many furloughed employees may wonder how to handle their new job status.

If you are currently furloughed and wondering what to do, this furlough response guide may have the answers you need. We’ll walk you through the first steps you need to take (with templates from our experts).

  1. Your initial furlough response: what to say to your boss
  2. Your expanded furlough response: what to say to your clients and your network
  3. Additional steps: 5 tips on what to do next

First step: your initial furlough response

Obviously, no one wants to hear that they’ve been furloughed from a job they need and love. However, it is important to recognize that this may just be a temporary status change. Companies use furloughs instead of layoffs when they expect an immediate crisis to be temporary. In short, it is likely that you will see a return to normalcy when that crisis passes. And that’s certainly true if you have been furloughed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, it is vital to get as much information about your furlough as you possibly can. Unfortunately, your employer may not have all those answers right now. For example, companies that have been ordered to suspend business due to the government deeming them non-essential probably won’t be able to tell you exactly when they will be allowed to reopen. However, they can still answer many of your basic questions about benefits and other important issues.

To get those answers, your furlough response should include an email to your employer documenting your questions and concerns. For your convenience, we have provided an email template that you can modify and use for that purpose.

What to say to your employer (email template)


As you are aware, I will be on temporary furlough during the COVID-19 outbreak. Like everyone at ABC Corp., I am hopeful that this current crisis will soon pass so that we can all return to our jobs and our company mission. We have achieved so much together in recent years, and I am eager to resume that important work.

I want to thank you for explaining how the furlough process works, and how it impacts both pay and benefits. If there is any additional information that you can share on that front, please feel free to forward it to me at your convenience.

In addition, please keep me apprised of any change in our status, any news about a relaxation in the slowdown/shutdown situation, and other relevant information we might need to know.

I have also forwarded client information to your office, to help expedite any necessary communications. In addition, I have emailed them to let them know that I will be temporarily furloughed, so that they can contact your office.

In closing, I wish you and your family good health and safety as we all work to navigate this crisis. And I look forward to a quick return to normal operations for ABC Corp. and our entire team.

My best wishes to you and your family,

[Your Name]

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Next steps: your expanded furlough response

In addition to emailing your employer, your furlough response should also include reaching out to any clients you regularly manage, as well as people in your network who may need to know about your change in status. Be sure to notify clients that you won’t be available for contact during the furlough.

Technically, furloughed workers should not be taking work-related phone calls or emails while they are on unpaid leave.

Example: what to say to your clients (email template)


I am writing to let you know that I will be on furlough from ABC Corp. until further notice. If you have any concerns or issues during my leave of absence, please contact the company using the contact information I have enclosed at the end of this message.

Like everyone here at ABC Corp., I value your business and have truly enjoyed working with you. More importantly, I look forward to continuing our work together once this crisis has passed and normal operations resume.

My furlough is effective as of [insert date]. If you have any immediate concerns, please contact me prior to that effective date and I will do my best to resolve them.

My best wishes and hope your health and safety,

[Your Name]

Example: what to say to your network (email template)


I just want to provide an update on my work status. In case you hadn’t heard, my employer’s company has furloughed employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. While we expect this to be a temporary change in status and hope for a quick return to normalcy, it is also a life-changing event for myself and many others in our company.

However, I fully intend to remain engaged with you and other important contacts throughout the coming weeks and months. Hopefully, this stressful period will prove to be an opportunity for all of us to strengthen these existing relationships, learn from one another, and provide the support that we all need to endure until this present darkness gives way to a new dawn of opportunity.

Please continue to stay in contact, and I will endeavor to do the same. In the meantime, be safe, stay healthy, and continue to enjoy the success you have so rightly earned.

My best wishes,

[Your Name]

Additional steps to take in your furlough response plan

Of course, your furlough response will need to include more than just a few messages to your employer, clients, and network. Here are a few other things that you should be doing during your time away from work:

1. Find out if you’ll be getting any compensation

Ask if your company is taking advantage of the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program. If it is, you may be getting paid during your furlough time.

2. Apply for unemployment benefits

If your company is not using the Paycheck Protection Program, you can file for unemployment. While that would not ordinarily be a guaranteed option, the CARES Act changed that dynamic. During this pandemic, employees who were furloughed due to a COVID-19 shutdown are entitled to receive unemployment benefits.

3. Update your resume

Yes, we know that you’re hopeful that your company will soon call you back to work, but it’s important to be prepared for anything. Things could get worse before they get better. Dust off your resume, add your new experience, skills, and accomplishments, and keep it handy to move on to step #4.

💡ZipTip: read our guide on How To Write A Resume For Remote Work to learn how to tailor your resume for a remote job.

4. Be prepared to start job searching

Be prepared to start looking for another job if the outbreak response drags on throughout the summer. Again, proper preparation can give you a leg up on any competition.

Some states require people receiving unemployment benefits to job search on a weekly basis.

💡ZipTip: read our expert’s advice on job searching during the COVID-19 outbreak.

5. Stay safe

Don’t forget to stay safe and follow CDC guidelines during your time away from work. In addition, make a point of trying to stay active to keep yourself healthy. Here are some tips from the Zipjob team (keeping in mind that we are career experts, not medical professionals):

  • Go for a walk, maintaining distance from your neighbors.
  • Work out in your home gym, even if that’s your living room floor and a yoga mat.
  • Play with your dog in the backyard.
  • Explore meditation and stress-release techniques.
  • Stay hydrated!

Finally, be sure to check out our Furlough FAQ article to answer any additional questions you may have about your job furlough. Leave a comment for us if you still have questions!

Most employees are unfamiliar with furlough etiquette and how to respond to an unexpected unpaid leave of absence. These tips can help you manage your new status.


Being put on a mandatory (if temporary) leave from work is tough, and communicating about it can be challenging and emotional. Use the tips and templates to guide what you say about your furlough. Follow the additional steps to create your game-plan moving forward.

Good luck!

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