- a leave of absence from duty granted especially to a soldier; also : a document authorizing such a leave of absence
In the United States a furlough (from Dutch: "verlof") is a temporary unpaid leave of some employees due to special needs of a company, which may be due to economic conditions at the specific employer or in the economy as a whole. These involuntary furloughs may be short or long term, and many of those affected may seek other temporary employment during that time.
In the United States, involuntary furloughs concerning federal government employees may be of a sudden and immediate nature. Such was the case in February 2010, when a single Senate objection prevented emergency funding measures from being implemented. As a result, 2000 federal workers for the Department of Transportation were immediately furloughed as of March 1, 2010. The longest such shutdown was December 16, 1995, to January 6, 1996, which affected all non-essential employees, shutting down a wide array of services including National Institutes of Health, visa and passport processing, parks, and many others.