While there is a difference between being laid off and being terminated, both are considered involuntary dismissals by the employer. However, they are generally for two very different reasons and involve different ramifications.
The reason behind a layoff is typically due to a downsizing or restructuring of the employer’s business. Conversely, terminations, involuntary terminations in particular, occur as a result of the employee’s own misconduct or performance.
Some of the differences between layoffs and terminations include:
● When an employee is laid off, the position is not filled with someone else. But when an employee is terminated by the employer, the position is usually filled.
● When an employee is laid off, they may be eligible for rehire, but when an employee is terminated, they typically are not. However, this isn’t always the case, and some employers may rehire employees who were previously terminated. In general, employers look at the reason for the termination as well as the relationship they had with the employee at the time of the termination.
● When an employee is laid off, they are eligible for unemployment benefits. However, when an employee is involuntarily terminated, they may not be eligible for benefits.
Before terminating an employee, it’s important to ensure that the termination can’t be misconstrued in such a way that is unjust, unfair, or vindictive. Make sure you have proper documentation of disciplinary actions, if taken, so that the termination is about performance to
expectations and not because of other reasons.
The termination or layoff conversation is one of the most difficult events for both the employee and the employer. In the case of terminations, this conversation should not come as a complete surprise because progressive action should have been taken for performance issues in the form of coaching, warnings, and disciplinary actions. In cases where the employee broke the law, such as theft or intoxication in the workplace, termination can be expected based on policies outlined in the employee handbook.
Regardless of the situation, the conversation should be handled with empathy, decisiveness, and respect; taking both the well-being of the employee being terminated, as well as that of the remaining employees into consideration. This can be a disruptive event and should be planned
intentionally and thoughtfully. The time of day, day of the week, and how the situation is handled all make an impact.
Proper handling of terminations and layoffs are extremely important to minimize the possibility of wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuits.
We can help you manage terminations and layoffs for your organization so that you can focus on growing your business while keeping a happy and productive workforce. Contact us today to find out how we can help.