COVID-19 has hit many businesses hard, necessitating the need to lay off employees. Laying off people is painful at the best of times, but during a global pandemic and economic crisis, the stakes are even higher. During this time of crisis, one thing is certain: layoffs should be achieved in a way that leaves people with their dignity, humanity, and as much support as can be given. Here are some best practices:

Give Notice of Layoff “Face-to-Face”

Normally, best practices for layoffs are done face-to-face in a private meeting with a supervisor and an HR representative. However, as businesses have been forced to close their doors or work remotely due to COVID-19, this is not an option. Nevertheless, it is not humane to lay off your employees via email, a pre-recorded message, or even a group call. The most respectful way to lay off an employee during COVID-19 is to have a real person, in real-time give the news via a video conference call (i.e. Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, etc.).

Here are some video conference guidelines for laying off employees with compassion:

  • Do not drag things out. Schedule the video conference for the same day you send the invite.
  • Make sure your video conferencing software or application works and is running smoothly before using it.
  • Have a script and stick to it. Make sure the reasoning of the layoff is clear and fact-based. Explain how the business is doing, and why this decision is necessary. Consult with HR as necessary.
  • Practice. Before your first video conference, practice your script with a real person. Remember to speak slowly and calmly.
  • Keep it private. Make sure there is no family in the room during the video conference.
  • Be encouraging and supportive. Explain how you plan to be supportive before, during, and after the layoff.
  • Explain how the layoff will happen.
  • Describe how they will return equipment.
  • Let the employee ask questions. Make sure he or she understands what you said.
  • End call with clear next steps.

Remember to be kind. When speaking with laid-off employees, assure them that their layoff had nothing to do with their performance and remember to thank them for their service to your business.

Outgoing Benefits

Evaluate what kinds of outgoing benefits your business can provide to laid-off employees. Due to COVID-19 concerns, some benefits employers are considering are:

  1. Financial support or severance package
  2. Health and medical benefits (i.e. paid up to 1 or 2 months after a layoff)
  3. Eligibility for re-hire (Only express this if there is a good probability. However, be clear there are no guarantees.)
  4. Offer job search support

Job Search Support

Employees laid off during COVID-19 will be entering a drastically different job market. Offering “job search support” may be one of the best ways to show care. Job search support includes:

  1. Letters of recommendation. This may include testimonials on an employee’s LinkedIn account.
  2. Introductions. Consider introducing laid-off workers to people in your network who might be in a position to hire them. Ask other members of the company to go out of their way to make network introductions.
  3. Hire Outplacement Service to assist laid-off employees in finding new jobs. These companies may assist in updating resumes, practice interviews, and employment counseling.

If you need assistance, please contact Hackler Flynn & Associates.

DISCLAIMER: Content within this post should not be considered legal advice and is for informational purposes only. Communications made through this post do not create an attorney-client relationship. Hackler Flynn & Associates is not responsible for any content that you may access from third-party resources that may be accessed through or linked to this post. Hackler Flynn & Associates is only licensed to practice in California.

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