Layoffs instead of employee terminations

by on May 26, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Remember, think in the literal legal sense when dealing with employee terminations

Literal sense
The term lay-off means ‘call back’. So if I tell an employee that they’re laid off, then that means it is not an employee termination, I’m going to call them back. So, it’s risky if I replace an employee two and a half years later and I didn’t call her back, though I told her laid off. Then potentially it could come back. If it’s a true lay-off, that means you want them back. Now, this varies across the country, It is more literal in the East Coast than West Coast, Think literal especially about employee terminations.

For example, suppose I hire ski instructors. The snow melts, they go away. They come back next season. That’s a lay-off.

This is different from employee terminations. The general term now is reduction in force. So, employee will be RIFed, a reduction in force. This means you’re firing an employee and have no intention to hire anybody to replace them. I’ve lost a client, or a contract that may affect more than one employee, it’s tough to say that a reduction in force in the form of firing one employee is going to save your company.

They’re going to look at it as though employee terminations were your intent. If you try to use something like a layoff, or making them miserable till they quit, then it’s not a safe way of conducting employee terminations. That’s where the documentation, typically our best friend, shows you didn’t give them a reasonable chance to save their job. So, be careful using the lay-off like that.

A job elimination or reduction in force is one of the toughest things, because typically it’s a surprise. Managers, if you don’t have the guts enough across the table to sit there and tell someone the job’s been eliminated normally through no fault of their own, and you’re not willing to do that then you better rethink the reduction of force in the first place.

Avoid using the term layoff or RIF because it’s literal. Just like you should avoid the term “attitude” or the word “career” when dealing with employee terminations.. These words aren’t bad, they’re just different.

Employees are, can be very passionate, especially this younger generation, and very good at their jobs. But they may not get particularly loyal to the boss or a company. Again, not bad, just different. Its hard for veteran managers, but be careful about the terminology with employee terminations.

These are the edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute webinar:
“Yes, You Can Fire Without Fear! What Every Supervisor Needs to Know” hosted by Hunter Lott, Esq. on 2-22-07

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