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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Best Buy announced Wednesday it’s furloughing more than 50,000 hourly workers across the country because of the financial loss brought on by COVID-19.

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The Minnesota-based company says furloughed employees will keep their health benefits for the next three months.

When workers are furloughed, it means their jobs will be there when the business reopens, but it typically excludes things like severance pay.

Best Buy joins other Minnesota companies to furlough workers, like Sleep Number and Life Time. Smaller businesses have chosen furloughs over layoffs, too, like the vending machine company that employs Scott Asplund.

“I know we’ll be able to be called back once the economy bounces back. There’s no timetable on that, that’s all dependent on how the economy bounces back,” Asplund said.

He’s grateful to know his job will be there when there’s work again, but this time puts people in limbo.

“When you have unknown factors in your, especially in your employment and income situation, that creates more hassles and stress in life,” Asplund said.

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He says his company did a good job of explaining what’s available. He applied for and received unemployment.

People who are furloughed indefinitely or for a specific amount of time, like what Minnesota-based Polaris is doing with a two-week unpaid furlough, can apply for unemployment insurance, just as those temporarily laid off.

Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development says it will pay about 50% of a person’s wage. And if eligible for unemployment, they would also receive the extra $600 per week from the federal government.

“I’m not rich or anything like that, but my needs are met. I can pay the rent, pay the bills,” Asplund said.

DEED also says if furloughed, you do have the right to apply for a temporary job. And says if part-time, a worker may still be eligible for unemployment.

It’s considered on a case-by-case basis. The department said healthcare coverage during the furlough should be discussed with the employer.

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Click here for more information on unemployment insurance, and click here for information on MNsure’s special enrollment.

Jennifer Mayerle