Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Once Laid Off, Never Go Back

My last post was about the difference between being fired and being laid off.  Essentially, there is little real difference – if you are out of work, you are out of work.  However, one of my human resources readers pointed out a legal difference.  If one is fired for cause, there must be significant paperwork to insure that it is legal.  But laying off an employee which can be done for any reason and requires no paperwork. No explanation or back up is required.  That is why everyone now gets laid off.  Laying an employee off leaves a company pretty much immune from lawsuit.  This is especially true in states where employment is “at will”, like New York.  

Occasionally companies lose accounts or have business problems which actually require good people to be let go.   I have heard of a few situations where an executive  has actually been offered their job back by the same company that fired them.  Often these job offers come weeks or months after the initial termination.

My advice is to never go back.  Period.

On occasion, companies can make saying no very difficult.  They might offer back salary.  They will often offer salary increases (rarely retroactive, mostly not).  They apologize and play on a person's ego by getting senior executives to tell how much a person was really loved.  It is great for the ego to go back, but, generally, a poor career decision. 

There are many reasons to turn down an offer to come back.  Most importantly, no matter what the reason given for the layoff, the company did not think enough of the employee at the time, to keep them.  Whatever issue caused an employee to be fired rarely goes away.  

The next time there is a problem, no doubt the employee will again be on the top of the cut list.  I can think of a wonderful account person who was let go three times.  The first time, her account was lost.  She went through this two more times with the same company.  The first time her account was lost, the second time business was down and the third time was because there was a change in management.  Each time, before accepting the offer, she was given advice not to accept.  I understand what happened.  Each time her ego overrode her rational self.  By being asked back she thought that the company really needed and liked her, besides, she was comfortable there.  Taking her job back was a rationale for her ego. 

But, as they say, the devil you know is better than the one you don’t know.  Hiring back an employee is really a matter of convenience for the company.  After all, a returning employee needs very little orientation and can be up and running very quickly. 

 Finally, there are issues within the company which negatively affect employees.  A month or two months or two years away rarely resolves those issues.

Unfortunately, within the business community there is extreme negativity to being on the market frequently, especially for senior executives.  I have actually had clients say, "What, her again?"

Once you are out.  Stay out.  
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