When an employee has been flagged as someone who is not performing well and not following company rules, the employer will usually give him/her a warning letter. If there is no improvement after the issuance of a warning letter, a final deliberation is done by the employer, and when push comes to shove, these employees are given termination letters to end their employment with the company. In these circumstances, the employee is fired due to his/her own doing. But what happens when you have to terminate an employee’s employment because of reasons such as downsizing and cost-cutting? Do you give the employee a warning? How do you let an employee go if it is the fault of your company and not his/hers?
In this article, we will give you a guide on how to break such news to the employee in an organized manner. We will also be giving you samples that you can refer to when you are in need of guidance about how you should let your employee know about the unfortunate news. Keep reading to find out more!
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What Is a Layoff?
Before we start discussing whether employers should give employees layoff notices, let us first start with the basics. Let us first define what a layoff is. A lot of times, a layoff is not due to an employee’s fault. It usually occurs when a position, department, or unit is to be abolished or dissolved due to
- financial constraints,
- change in the company’s usual program,
- change in the organizational structure for each department,
- lack of work, or
- redundancy or the state of not being needed for work anymore.
There are circumstances wherein a layoff may be temporary and the laid off employee is rehired when the economy is in a better position.
Should a Notice Be Given or Not?
Now that you know what layoff means, let us now discuss if employees should be given employee notice forms for layoff or not.
The ethical answer is YES.
As a responsible employer, you are required to let your employee know if he/she will be laid off from work and whether or not it will be a temporary one or otherwise.
Generally, you should give your employee his/her advanced layoff notice about 90 days before the effective date of job termination. You or the officer who will administer the meeting with the employee should also make all of the necessary preparations for the meeting. To help you out with this, we will give you a quick breakdown of what you need to do when laying off an employee.
Preparing for the One-on-One Meeting
- Before the meeting, the officer who will administer the meeting should already prepare all the necessary documents such as:
- The layoff notice letter
- The employee handbook or company documents that talks about the guidelines about the rights of a laid off employee and guidelines you need to follow when it comes to laying off an employee.
- Have a meeting scheduled with the employee to be laid off and have a meeting agenda prepared. When it comes to laying off multiple employees, you are required to meet each of them one by one. As tedious as it may be, it is the best way to show your employees that despite this unfortunate event, you still value them and the service that they have rendered for the company. Your agenda should have a time limit allocated for each employee (about 30 minutes to 45 minutes each) and what you will discuss with the employee.
- Prepare answers to some of the most common questions the employee might have about the layoff. If you or the administering officer can, practice the message in front of the mirror to ease the anxiety should there be any.
- Prepare a follow-up letter that you will give to the employee a week after the initial meeting.
The Layoff Meeting Proper
The main goal of the meeting is mainly to notify the employee of the decision for layoff. The administrator of the meeting will serve as the vessel who will report the decision to the employee. He/she is in no position to justify the reason why the decision was so. Different employees will have a variety of reactions to the unfortunate news. The administrator, if it is you or another authoritative person in the company, should remember to keep calm in situations like this. Any challenges along the way should be duly anticipated to ensure that the employee will fully understand why the decision was so. Being confrontational should also be avoided. Again, the main goal is to inform the employee of the message, so remember to keep calm and stay on track.
Here is a step-by-step guide that can be followed during a meeting with an employee who is about to be laid off.
- Check the setting of the room where the meeting will be conducted.
- Make sure that the room is private and that no other employee will be able to hear the conversation.
- Make sure that there is nothing in between you (or the administrator) and the employee when the meeting starts. Just two chairs facing each other. No desk in between.
- No interruptions such as telephones, mobile phones, or speakers. Keep everything silent.
- Make sure there are water and tissue available for both you (or the administrator) and the employee.
- Make sure all the documents are on hand.
- The written notice letter or the notice form
- The company handbook
- The company guidelines regarding layoffs
- Once you (or the administrator) are already face-to-face with the employee, immediately start the meeting. Do not sugarcoat anything. Be direct to the point and avoid any small talk.
- Discuss the major points of the notice. Do not be defensive and stay on track with the message.
- Restate the reason why the employee is being laid off. Make sure you deliver the reason in a clear and concise manner.
- Give the employee a chance to ask any questions or areas of the layoff that may need clarifications. Be prepared as he/she may ask the question, “Why me?”
- Let the employee know that the company will help them ease through the transition. Despite having a time limit for your meeting, never rush the employee back to his/her desk or station. This is a sensitive moment and you should give them time to process and absorb the news they have just received.
What Employee Behavior May Occur During the Meeting?
As we have stated before, each employee will have different reactions to the news. Some of the common reaction that may occur are:
- Pleading for the decision to be reconsidered, beg for one more chance, and plead the case.
- The employee might demand to talk with the person who made the decision.
- Make the decision be about personal issues. Insecurities may pop up.
- Ask for information about who else is going to be laid off and who will be retained in the company. Remember that disclosure of such information is not allowed.
- Threaten that legal action will be taken against the company.
Again, you (or the administrator) should remain calm in any of these situations and focus on the reason for the layoff. Restate and reiterate the facts about the layoff and what will happen after the layoff and the time in between the date of the meeting and the effective date of layoff.
Following Up after the Meeting
- Plan a follow-up meeting after the initial meeting. It is ideal that these meetings not extend the 90-day notice period; however, these are not mandatory. If you are to hold this meeting, it should not be later than a week after the initial meeting regarding the layoff.
- Remind the employee about the meeting.
- Offer help to transition them to a new career.
- Remember to still be sensitive to the emotions of the employee.
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The Transition Process
- Help the employee transition with dignity. Offer help and words of encouragement.
- If the employee was advised to render a specific number of days before the effective date of layoff. Remind them that the working standards remain the same. Follow a timeline template to ensure that all tasks are completed on time.
- Ask the employee to return any company assets assigned to them such as gadgets (mobile phone, laptops, or tabs), passwords, keys or key cards, identification cards, accounts, etc. Advise the employee that access to software and company internal systems will only be available up until the effective date of the layoff.
Whatever the case of the layoff is in your company, you have to make sure that you check with the laws of your state first. Remember that notification rules and jurisdiction will vary for every state. It’s advisable that you check with your company attorney and make sure you review the guidelines of your company.
We are hoping that you found the answer that you were looking for. We are also hoping that the step-by-step guide we have given will enlighten you on how to properly conduct layoffs in your company. The sample notices both in PDF and Word Document file format will also serve as your guide in coming up with your own layoff notice letter.
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