how to announce a firing to the rest of your staff

A reader writes:

Can you please provide me with an email script to inform my employees that someone has been dismissed?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My job wants me to take a laptop on vacation
  • Freelancer who turned in subpar work won’t give me info to pay her
  • Limiting emotional venting from coaching clients during initial intake sessions
  • Have I been demoted?

{ 201 comments… read them below }

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think their answer would be “eat them, with a side of coleslaw” to every question. Though sometimes that is a tempting answer.

        2. Ambulance Chaser*

          I’ll field that one. “Johnson, have your desk cleaned out by 3:00 or I’ll slice your limbs off. Are we clear, bub?”

      1. Shrugged*

        Just FYI, it still seems to be not working!

        I copy/pasted the link to try to parse the problem. It needs a period between www and inc. Otherwise, my browser goes to wolverine worldwide web inc.

  1. Again? Alright...*

    Feels like every other post these days is just a link to another website…

    1. Edianter*

      Alison is single-handedly running this website along with all her other projects. She posts 3-4 times PER DAY, when most other bloggers update weekly-ish. She has repeatedly written/spoken about burnout, which you can find on this very same website.

      We are VERY lucky to have the level of dedication we get from her. Even if it means sending us to another page so she can earn some $$$ for the work she does.

      1. Cobol*

        I’d like to add that Alison is way more active in the comment section than most other bloggers. The amount of content she provides is amazing!

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        This, exactly. Alison runs one of the best and most prolific management blogs out there, and most of her resources are available for free. It seems kind of petty to gripe that one has to click a link to get to another of those (free) resources, particularly when it’s the revenue from freelance writing that probably helps pay for the resources.

        I don’t work for free, and I don’t expect Alison to either.

      3. RUKiddingMe*


        I get really tired of people who complain that they aren’t happy with all the work Alison does. They can go pound sand AFAIC.

      4. Flash Bristow*


        Honestly, this site is provided for free, when most other sites I enjoy ask for a subscription after the first x posts a month, or only make half the site available to non-payers, or whatever.

        I do not mean to be rude, but you really don’t have to read this site if you don’t like it. My personal view is that we are lucky it exists, and to have access to it.

    2. LaDeeDa*

      I am sure they pay better than the revenue Alison gets from the small amount of advertising on this page.

    3. Pebbles*

      Not sure if you’re in the U.S., but we had a holiday here on Monday, so Alison was running some older posts. Also, Thursdays always have a link to her answering questions on Inc. or Slate. Everyone needs time off, even advice columnists!

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I do four posts a day (except for Fridays). Most days, three are hosted here, and one is hosted somewhere else. That has been the case for many years. It’s always the 12:30 pm ET post if you’d like to skip it.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Oh, actually, yesterday I did two links to outside sites, which has happened maybe twice before in the history of the site. It’s because Monday was a holiday and so I wrote less new content. I take occasional days off.

        1. Batgirl*

          This is so ironic in the context of a letter where someone is asked to work on their days off!

          1. LawLady*

            Ha, this is exactly what I thought. Alison, we’re going to need you to take your laptop along on your days off, mmmkay? (Said in my best Bill Lumbergh from Office Space voice.)

        2. TechWorker*

          You’re doing amazing. I love your blog and I am seriously impressed by the amount of great content produced. (I’m in a different time zone so I can basically always wake up to a new AAM post :))

        3. RUKiddingMe*

          And you have no need to explain it at all. The vast, vast majority of us are so grateful and we “get it.” Like I said above…anyone who complains can pound sand.

    5. PB*

      The 12:30 post typically links to an outside site, but Alison also generally answers about 30 letters a week, which is way more than any other advice columnist out there.

      1. EPLawyer*

        This is how slow I am. I did not realize that the 12:30 post was usually an outside link until it was pointed out today.

        Yeah attention to detail is a necessary job requirement for me. But doesn’t mean I could be hired to do my own job some days.

      2. Fieldpoppy*

        Also — I’m a strategy consultant and I reach leadership and I coach leaders. I find myself quoting Allison’s advice and recommending her column at least once a day. It’s a profound and amazing resource and I remain awed that you do this for us for FREE allison.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Thank you — that’s so nice to hear!

          I do want to be transparent that while it’s free to read, I do make money by doing it (from ads) — otherwise I could not produce as much content!

        1. HarperC*

          I have never understood why that upsets some people so much. I personally love to see everything Allison writes, so I appreciate her sharing the link when she writes for another column/website/publication. That way, I don’t have to seek it out and miss things.

    6. Isben Takes Tea*

      It’s…still her content? The same content? That Alison is producing for our free consumption? That she handily points you to?

      It sounds like you’re annoyed at a free taco truck for being on a different corner one time a day out of four, when it’s the sponsorship from that corner that helps fuel all the tacos.

            1. hula-la*

              Is it the same brand that’s up in Canada? Take a trip up the I-5 and get your taco fix. Plus, your dollar is doing well, so it’s almost like getting the tacos on sale!

      1. Midwest writer*

        Exactly. And also, the truck has had the same route and schedule for years.

        1. Marthooh*

          Same schedule for years, except for the now-defunct Tacocast.
          — Marthooh the metaphor-stretching literalist

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      If your emotional feelings about the math and the actual math are not in sync, maybe don’t complain in writing?

      There’s a weekly column at NYM and one at Inc. That is so far below half as to be laughable.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        To be fair, it’s more than that. It’s also Slate and occasionally something else. But it’s 3-4 times a week, out of ~20 posts and ~30 letters.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          But, to be even more fair, clicking the provided hyperlink ain’t that hard. I mean, you provide a bullet list of the topics in the link, for goodness sake, so the uninterested don’t even have to *gasp* slightly move their index finger.

          1. IL JimP*

            LOL yeah it’s seems much more work to complain about it

            I love this site and all the links to other sites

          2. RUKiddingMe*

            Right? I mean clicking a link is so freaking onerous? Really? I just…can’t.

        2. Blarg*

          I see the Inc. “revisit” posts as refresher courses. Early in the annals of the blog, Allison answered questions like, “how do i tell people I fired someone?” Today, we are in grad school, so we are learning how to tell your staff you fired someone who was filming porn in the conference room and might have used coworkers as unwitting extras. The Slate and NYMag posts are like survey courses, a broad overview, but where you got the cool TA who went off the syllabus to make the class more interesting and maybe get you to take another class in the department (or start reading the blog).

          And when Allison shares an interview she did with NYT or something, it is validation that the advice she gives is widely valued, so if I follow it, I should be good.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yeah. It’s called revenue. Do you like to make money off your work? Alison has cats to support here, dude.

  2. Dragoning*

    OP2, if you’ve been working there for 5 years and still get no PTO whatsoever and they want to you work unpaid–

    please, I hope you find a new job ASAP.

    1. EPLawyer*

      My response would have been — well since you want me to work during that week, I expect to be paid. Bet that would shock them. Not enough to get them to stop asking, just enough to pause before they continue to ask you to work unpaid because you aren’t actually in the office and it’s only a few hours.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Very much this. We expect terrible employers to ask their employees to work during their vacations. It takes a special sort of terrible employer to want this when the vacation is unpaid.

      2. TurquoiseCow*

        Yeah, I don’t get paid PTO, and I don’t work when I’m on vacation. If they want me to bring my laptop and work a few hours on my vacation, that’s fine, as long as they pay me! I’m paid hourly and work remotely so it wouldn’t really be that much of a difference.

        Assuming OP2 is also paid hourly, she should just make her timecard reflect hours worked while away. (Assuming she wants to work on vacation. If she doesn’t, then she doesn’t).

      3. Fergus*

        I thought with Alison’s blog I heard everything. I read an artice yesterday where there was an employee who had IBS and her boss was going to dock their pay if they didn’t take a pic as proof and send it ot them. Yes if you are wondering the boss wanted to see the #2.

      4. Gumby*

        My office has a “no partial days off” policy. If you do *any* work for a day, you report your hours (because government contracts: TPTB need to know how long you worked on which projects) but you don’t use vacation or sick days on any day on which you worked at all. It’s a small enough company that it would be noticed if you abused the policy. (I did feel particularly guilty the one day I came in and got sick basically immediately. I was physically in the office maybe 2 hours but 1 of them was me waiting to throw up so that I could make the drive home in that post emesis golden time where you feel relatively okay and are somewhat assured that you won’t have to pull over on the side of the freeway. It did not count as me using a sick day.)

        So take my laptop on a vacation? At their request? Absolutely. Please email me one short task that has to be done each day. I would be thrilled to work 15 minutes in exchange for a full day’s pay. Under any other policy? Nopity nope nope nope.

    2. LawBee*

      She may have been happy with the situation, overall though. I didn’t get a sense that she was frustrated about the lack of paid PTO (which isn’t unusual for a part time job), just that when she decided to take a week off, they wanted her to be available. There are tradeoffs for part-time work, and no PTO is often one of them – but she presumably has more time off during the week because she’s not pulling a 40-50 hour work week. And she seemed to enjoy the job itself, or at least she didn’t say she didn’t.

      1. TurquoiseCow*

        I work part-time, remote, and don’t get paid PTO or sick time. I don’t mind, because I can take off when I need to and not have to worry about whether I have enough vacation time to do it. Of course, I don’t live off my salary (my spouse makes way more than I do), and if I did it wouldn’t really be manageable. But if I lived off it, I wouldn’t be working part-time.

    3. Quickbeam*

      Re: OP#2…..My salaried job required me to be available 24/7 during it’s start up years. Now that the place is stable, the expectation lingered. My husband and I are wilderness campers and access is spotty at the best of times. It also makes a great excuse. After a few “weaning”vacations I now no longer even take my work laptop or phone with me. But it does make a good rebuttal..”there is no access where I am going”.

    4. Artemesia*

      THIS SOOOO THIS. All I could think was — you sound terrific and terrifically exploited. They not only don’t give you vacation but they expect you to work for them for free. There must be someone else who could use your excellent office and payroll management skills and would pay you benefits. This request would have me looking for a new job steadily until I found one. You don’t have to be in a rush to take anything, but I’d hope you could find something better than this. And when you do, don’t agree to do any ‘consulting’ for them after the two weeks notice. Businesses like this deserve to be left high and dry when the people they abuse finally move on.

    5. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

      PTO isn’t super common with part time jobs, which OP mentions this job is.

      1. Autumnheart*

        No, because then if someone breaks into the car or whatever, OP might be held responsible for it. (Which would be BS, but it sounds like this company counts on BS.)

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Not only that, but taking the laptop would signal to the delusion manager that the letter writer would be willing to work on her time off, which isn’t happening.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Leave it at home on the kitchen table for when you return! Don’t put it in the trunk, don’t even tempt yourself to “check” and “feel guilty!” in my POV. “Oh darn no WiFi at the cabin after all.”

    1. LawLady*

      Agreed. Based on the teaser, I clicked ready to comment that some jobs require you to take your laptop and it just comes with the territory of a demanding job. But if an employer is going to expect that kind of availability, the pay and benefits better be commensurate with those expectations.

  3. Rebecca*

    Re the laptop on vacation, this really stuck out to me: “I have been here over five years and last year was first time I took a week off for vacation. I am taking a week off this year – it is unpaid as I do not receive sick or vacation benefits.” I’m sort of flabbergasted, I know this is part time, but still – you do a lot for them, and I’d think that they could show some appreciation and give you some paid time off and in turn, let you have your time without working for free in addition. Unless there are other great benefits, I’d be looking for a new part time job.

  4. mark132*

    Shorter is definitely better. In my experience, when someone is fired usually everyone is aware of why they are being fired, especially if it is for performance reasons.

    1. The Bean*

      We recently had our head of HR fired mysteriously, announced via an extremely short email. People definitely don’t know why and it led to a lot of speculation but it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea to tell us.

      (But as a nosey human I really want to know)

      1. mark132*

        Sometimes you find out through the grapevine. Especially if it was for a really “lurid” reason.

      2. angrywithnumbers*

        Do we work at the same place ? The same thing happened recently where I work and everyone is DYING to know why.

      3. Anax*

        Yep. We had our office manager fired mysteriously at my last job, and the speculation went on for a good year – Did he steal something? Did he fudge contracts?

        Nothing we needed to know, though it was very awkward because he was also my next-door neighbor at the time.

        (I never did get the full details.)

    2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      Lots of detail on who is handling what is key. What I want to know the most is who is going to handle the TPS reports and that someone is aware of the work that person did and has access to their emails and files. I have been burned before by someone getting fired and no one bothering to look at their work for a long time and things falling horribly through the cracks.

    3. mcr-red*

      At my toxic job, we are always blind-sided about firings. Someone will notice, “Hey where’s Jill?” and a boss will say, “Oh, she’s no longer with us.” And Jill may have been a high performing person, and all the low performing people are still here. So what happened? Was she stealing from the company? Did she yell at her supervisor? Was she sexually harassing someone? Did she just quit? Are they starting layoffs?

      1. Gatomon*

        This is how my job does it (unless you are an immediate team member, where you will have a meeting while the person packs their things). I hate it. You do eventually hear through the grapevine, but it feels like people just get disappeared out of the blue. They also do the same thing (i.e. nothing) for anyone leaving who isn’t retiring, so it’s hard to know if it’s a quit, a fire or the start of a mediocre mystery novel.

        1. Ali G*

          At my old job we called this “The Rapture.” You literally could talk to someone one day and come in the next day and they, and all their stuff are gone – like they were never there to begin with. Company never even indicated that they no longer worked there or did any communications on departures.

        2. Flash Bristow*

          Oh I hate that. Called to an unexpected company meeting except… hang on, x y and z aren’t here. Are they running late? Should we wait for them?

          And then one of the senior staff – who had flown over specially and we’d never met before – stood up to tell us he’d “got rid of the dead wood”.

          Cue lots of disenfranchised people saying ” uh, those are our FRIENDS you’re talking about… they are PEOPLE…”

          If you can’t afford to keep everyone on, don’t try to jolly along the survivors by saying those who have invisibly vanished were dead wood, ffs.

      2. mark132*

        That sounds awful. (I would probably avoid the “mystery meat” at your company’s cafeteria.)

    4. I Like Math*

      I send an email that says ‘Please note, Jane Doe is no longer an employee here.’ And I title the email ‘Employee Update’. I almost never get feedback/replies.

      1. A. Nonimus*

        I think Allison’s wording is a bit kinder.

        My former company used to send out very terse announcements whenever they fired someone. “X is no longer employed by [Company Name].” When I was dismissed (something between laid off and fired), I was determined that I didn’t want this to be the company’s last word about me. That evening, I sent emails from my personal account to all of my coworkers (but not managers) announcing that I was laid off, thanking my colleagues for all they had done for me, and wishing them well. I received many kind replies.

        I did not want to be rudely disappeared, like they had disappeared others.

        Eventually, my dismissal led to a company-wide evaluation of the corporate culture and management practices, led by an outside consulting firm. (“Why did we let A. go? He was a great employee.”) And the terrible manager who Got rid of me was later fired himself for ethical violations.

      2. Former Employee*

        This is a bit terse and leaves people wondering who is their new “go to” person.

        However, I think I would leave off the word “unfortunately”, which is how Alison’w wording begins. If management believed that Jane was not doing her job, then there is nothing unfortunate about her no longer being with the company.

        1. I Like Math*

          True, but I work for a huge company, so it’s really intended to notify for security reasons, not ‘go to this person now’ reasons. The expectation here is that the manager of that team will take care of ‘who to talk to next’. And, I only do this if the person is fired/walks out. If they leave with notice, it’s on them to tell people. The culture around this is a bit different then it was at previous companies and I had to fight a bit to notify my team at all. At prior companies, a nicer email went out to the entire staff that included more information. Here, I’m one of the few managers that let’s their team know at all.

    5. JustMePatrick*

      Here it is usually a short e-mail or statement saying the person is no longer with the company. That said We know when people leave voluntarily as an e-mail will state so. ” Jane is leaving to …. insert name of the company..”.

      We had a supervisor that stopped showing up, we kept asking the Operations Manager in charge of her department and he wouldn’t tell us. Eventually, he told us that she wasn’t with the company anymore then quickly left. It was well known she was a family friend, but her firing had been expected.

    6. SusanIvanova*

      My manager had the sense to *not* start off with “Unfortunately, we had to let Coffeecup go” or say anything about best wishes because by that point I think the whole team was refusing to do anything that depended on him because it *would not happen*. There was also no need to say “please see X about anything he was working on” for obvious reasons.

      He did say the “I want to be sure you know that this doesn’t mean anyone else has to worry about their jobs” part, but there was a look on his face that was very clearly “you and I both know that there’s no chance of that.”

      (Years later I found out the performance PIP was still wending its way through the system when they discovered Coffeecup was gaslighting our remote employee with patently untrue things like “they don’t like you, they think I’m great and I’m going to replace you”.)

      1. TheAssistant*

        I do think it can be good to go with the “you don’t have to worry about your job part”, at least with the more junior employees, even if it does seem superfluous. I worked at a company once that had an admin that was honestly atrocious at her job, and people worked around her. She was on a team of two admins, and the second was really a delight. Night and day. Everyone favored the second admin. When the first was finally let go, I made a point about reaching out to the second admin, just to see how she was holding up, and I think her boss forgot to tell her the whole “you’re not in danger part”. So there I was, consoling her on the office IM, explaining the company’s PIP process…

        1. SusanIvanova*

          It was a pretty unusual situation – it’s the only time I’ve worked with someone who was so effective at bluffing their way through an interview and so terrible once hired. But it was pretty obvious this was a well-deserved firing, and not a “first layoff of many” which is the only way any of the rest of us would be at risk. The only thing that would’ve made us worried would’ve been if they *had* framed it as “unfortunate”, because that would’ve implied “they can’t tell talent from 100% pure BS, time to job hunt”.

    7. Zephy*

      OldJob would send out an email saying “Jane Smith is no longer employed at Company. She is permitted on the premises and should be treated like any member of the public.” Only once did the email say “Fergus is not permitted on the premises; please notify Lucinda or Marguerite if you see him.”

  5. Rusty Shackelford*

    OP 2 should absolutely say no. But if they push back too hard, I’d say “That’s fine, but if you expect me to work while I’m away, naturally you’ll need to pay me for that time. I’ll present a filled-out time sheet when I get back.”

    1. BRR*

      That’s what I was thinking, or rather wondering, as well. I know there are guidelines for pay when you’re on call and I’m wondering if this hits the need to be paid.

      1. Pebbles*

        The OP is a part-time employee, taking unpaid time off to have a vacation. Since the OP’s office is asking her to take a laptop with her, then they don’t have any issues with working remotely, therefore they should have no problems with paying her for work. If they are going to turn this into an “on call” situation, then they are effectively saying that the OP can’t ever have more than a few days off and they suck.

    2. Blossom*

      As long as she’s happy to do it if they call her bluff. Was it on this site we had a letter about a teacher who “agreed” to give one child private tuition in break times, in the hope that her boss would step in and tell the pushy parent that it was ridiculous? (but the boss didn’t?)

      1. Kuododi*

        I’ve noticed in the time I have been alive that people are generally not adept at picking up on “hints”, “wishes” and the like. As a rule of thumb, asking for what is needed is much more efficient. (The answer might be no however, one at least has a clearer picture of the circumstances.). Not surprised the boss didn’t pick up on her hopes for a different outcome. ;)

    3. scanon*

      Only do that if you actually want to be paid to do work on vacation. But OP2 probably really needs a vacation that is a true break and that cannot be achieved if they have to check in with the office and do work throughout the week. Making this about the money invites them to just pay you for a few hours of work to interrupt your time away. That is not a good solution for OP2.

  6. LaDeeDa*

    #5 I hope we get an update on this one! The whole thing is really odd, I really want to know if that kind of miscommunication is the norm at their office, or if it was out of character for that kind of thing to happen. I also want to know did they actually get demoted, and why! Good luck, OP, and we look forward to an update!

    1. Dagny*

      I read it very differently than you and Alison did. It seemed like the OP may have been (emphasis on “may”) hoarding the best work for herself, and the temps are not happy with this arrangement. We’ve seen plenty of letters in which the letter-writer asks about jobs that promised substantive work, only to find it was all lower-level tasks than they were hired for. It’s entirely possible that the temps said something to their grand-boss, who felt that the OP shouldn’t have been hoarding this work.

      It’s also weird for her to ask if her boss is “incompetent,” while also suggesting that the temps aren’t up to snuff: you probably shouldn’t be saying that every single person around you is the problem, because the constant is you.

      1. MonteCristo85*

        I read that differently too. I saw it more as the OP was running point on bringing in temps to parcel out work that OP was doing alone. They’ve past the initial hurdle, had their basic training, and now they are all basically equals sharing one group of work. Its seems to me that the OP mistakenly thought they were a manager, just because they were working with temps, when it seems like she was just responsible for the initial training/screening of some new coworkers.

  7. Batgirl*

    OP2, Internet availability is a really good one in the kind of place where you can’t truly pushback. “A laptop while camping! Good one boss”. Or say you’re in an RV or a beach shack completely off the grid.
    However, if you can pushback (you know your own circumstances best) do so. It may be that they’re just being breathtakingly thoughtless or they haven’t realised that the person they can’t do without for a week is going to be gone for a lot longer than that if they push it. “No I can’t do that, because I’m actually on vacation and won’t be working. Let me know what you need before I go.”

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I’m always on board with telling the truth instead of making something up, because then you have to remember what lie you told and make sure not to mess it up and be found out. In a situation like that, where she’s only taken 1 vacation in 5 years, you just need to say no. Just because the OP in this letter is part-time doesn’t mean she shouldn’t get an actual vacation. I hope she found a better job where she’s appreciated.

  8. LaDeeDa*

    #4 I am assuming they are new to coaching… your first coaching session is primarily all about clarifying how you will work together as coach and coachee – what commitments are expected from both sides, including style of coaching (e.g. how does the coachee wish the coach to respond if they fall behind on their goals, how challenging do they want you to be?), ‘rules’ regarding missed or late arrivals to sessions and addresses issues of confidentiality etc. This stage really is crucial as it forms the foundation of a relationship where there is trust and respect on both sides and firmly placing you as equal partners. There are free intake checklists that you can download.
    What your clients are doing in that “venting” session is what we would classify more as a pre-coaching conversation- It is about understanding more about them as a person – broadly speaking where they have come from, where they are now and where they want to go. It is about establishing their needs, wants, strengths, capabilities, resources, fears, motivations, challenges and barriers to moving forward. This should not happen until you have done the initial intake and agreed on everything, and signed all the appropriate forms.

    1. remizidae*

      #4–Absolutely do not describe what your clients are doing as “dumping.” That’s a really pejorative and even insulting way to describe your clients sharing their life problems with you.

      1. LaDeeDa*

        As a leadership coach that entire letter left a really bad taste in my mouth. I don’t want to assume or make too many judgments based on such little information but if you describe your clients behavior as a “dump session” you aren’t controlling the conversation and it causes me to think they aren’t ready to be on their own.

        1. Fieldpoppy*

          Me too. That person is a lousy coach if they don’t have the basic tools to shape a meaningful first conversation. (Also a coach)

    2. Mary*

      Yes, my immediate reaction was that you’re not contracting effectively. We all encounter the occasional client who doesn’t respond to the usual “stop talking!” cues and you have to cut them off more abruptly, but if you’re finding this is happening regularly you need to be much more explicit about directing the conversation, ask fewer open questions, and contract more effectively.

      This is a really basic coaching skill and should be one of the first things you learn when you’re learning to coach, so I would definitely look for more training if this is something you are struggling with. I’m wondering if you’ve come to coaching through a “soft” route and you’re coming at it as a nice supportive chat or something? Coaching should be a very structured conversation, and it shouldn’t be possible for your clients to “emotionally dump” on you because that’s not what you are there for.

  9. CR*

    Do: use a polite script to share the news about a dismissal. Don’t: pull all your employees into a spontaneous fake party just to get them out of the way while the higher ups fire someone and escort them out.

    1. JustaTech*

      Even more don’t: Don’t fire someone, let them go alone back to their desk in incoherent tears (incoherent to the point that she couldn’t speak English anymore, only Cantonese, which no one else in the lab spoke), wait *several* hours while the rumor mill spins up to a frenzy, then hold a meeting insisting that the person was not fired but that they quit. Then disappear for the rest of the day.

      Then several days later insist that no one speak to any lawyers because this person is having to take legal action because of their visa status.

      Yeah, don’t do any of that.

  10. Rose's angel*

    OP1 we had a similar situation at my office and I wish my boss had used a script similar to that. Instead 3 people in my department were told and the info was spread to the rest of my dept. My boss is now going to each person in my dept asking if we are ok with her decision. Keep it short and decisive.

    1. No Green No Haze*

      My boss is now going to each person in my dept asking if we are ok with her decision.

      This kind of thing drives me mad. What is she expecting you to say, exactly, if you’re not?

      1. Rose's angel*

        I honestly have no idea. I keep thinking what happens if I’m not do I get penalized? Written on a list somewhere?

      2. ShwaMan*

        Seriously. “I think it’s none of my concern, and I’m confused why you’re asking.”

  11. Polymer Phil*

    Send a simple email like “So-and-so is no longer with Company X. Her last day was today. Please contact Manager A with any questions.”

    I hate when people just disappear, and you waste time waiting for them to answer a voicemail or email, or say something awkward to a customer like “Charlie will get back to you soon about this” when you’re unaware that Charlie got fired last week. If you’re at a secured site, a fired employee could easily pretend to have forgotten their badge and have someone let them in if there hasn’t been an announcement that the person is no longer working there.

    1. Drew*

      Rather than the vague “with any questions” (“Why was Fergus fired?” “Am I getting fired next?”), be more specific: “For questions about the Llama LLC account, see Londo. For questions about the Alpaca Inc. account, see Delenn. For any other questions about open tasks, see Susan.”

        1. Deejay*

          For even vaguer mystical prognostication, see Kosh. Don’t worry about him being killed, as we are ALL Kosh.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        And Susan will make sure everything is covered. Because that’s what she does. (B5 <3)

    2. ssssssssssssssssssss*

      If they were fired/left the company and the account made inactive, the email should bounce back. It’s when the deactivating doesn’t happen right away that causes problems. I had a temp leave, figured IT and HR would take care of her email account and then kicked myself when someone chased me down asking where Maria was, over a week after she was gone. Should have had Maria do an out of office before she left.

      Voicemails are quite often forgotten and will languish for months.

      1. 1234*

        Or the email account can be forwarded to whomever is qualified to handle whatever questions may come up or be able to at least forward it to the relevant party/parties.

    3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      It’s not always easy to do. There is a usual, management text script = “we wish him well, and if you need help contact Joe…” but there are some occurrences where a popular guy is fired owing to a personality conflict; what if the guy / gal falsified their application regarding education completed, or hid a felony conviction? Or was caught stealing on the job? I’ve seen all three – and – sometimes you have to be candid, as far as you can within limits.

      Also in the standard “there, there, the blue meanies are all gone” meeting following a layoff – why was the layoff done?
      – if it was done out of financial need, that can be explained but you have to be honest about what’s going on.
      – if it was a “harum scarum” layoff – done mainly to scare the other employees — very difficult to restore morale after that one.

      1. Massmatt*

        Employers are reluctant to get into reasons for firing due to fears of being sued. Making a public announcement to a large group, verbally or in writing, that x was fired for stealing or whatever is just asking for litigation and dragging the firing out. And for little or no payoff. It’s natural to be curious about why someone is gone but what difference does it really make to anyone else? Why would an employer risk this just to satisfy employee curiosity?

        And I don’t think “harum scarum” (wow I REALLY had to fight autocorrect on that one!) layoffs are common. It’s natural for remaining employees to be anxious after a round of layoffs but that’s likely to reduce productivity as the employees with the most options are likely to look to move on and others spend time worrying.

    4. Kes*

      Agreed on sending an email with a message that’s brief and to the point. I wouldn’t include too much softening language either or people may be left wondering whether they left of their own accord or were fired. At my company there is a very clear distinction between the longer, complimentary messages for those who leave and the more concise messages for those who were fired

      1. A. Nonimus*

        The unsoftened language is very rude, in my opinion, and it has always left a bad taste in my mouth when I have received one of them.

        Not every employment relationship works out, and people know that. The terse message comes across as spiteful to me, even when it is applied to the obnoxious lazy jerkface who is being fired. Is wishing someone well really too much when you have to let them go, even when the reason is fully justified?

  12. cheese please*

    #2 – The first would be to push back at getting asked to work unpaid during time off. You could start may acknowledging that they are not used to taking time away from the office, but that you’ve realized having one week of vacation is important for your family life and mental health, and that if there were major issues last year when you were away, you will do your best to mitigate those risks in the week before you leave. Ex: “I understand that last year Marcy was unprepared to take on the A/R for the llama farm client and their payment was late. I’ve put together a process document outlining the procedure for all A/R I manage to prevent that from happening in the future and reviewed the document with Marcy last week. As such, I expect that you are able to respect my request to take a week off at my own expense to spend quality time with my family and take a mental break. I will return on X date to address all issues, which I think will be sufficient”

  13. 8DaysAWeek*

    OP2: What if you didn’t have internet access where you were going on vacation? What would be their expectation?
    I used to tell people I wouldn’t have any internet access so they knew I was taking a real vacation. And then I started taking vacations where I could not be reached. I am going on a trip soon where my phone will barely work, let alone a PC. Plus I need to pack light (carry on only) and do not have room for a PC.

    1. Ghostwriter*

      I’m active in the adventure community where vacations that put you totally off the grid. My friends and I discuss wording for OOO emails that make it clear that this isn’t a normal vacation where you’ll check email on your phone and respond if it’s important. Even still, clients get irate. All you can do is respond with a pic of said remote, beautiful place.

      1. SezU*

        My go to for vacation: I am out of the office until XX/XX/XXX with no access to email. If you require immediate attention, please contact XXX, or 555-555-5555.

        I have had zero push-back on that.

        1. Asenath*

          Even “limited access to email” seems to work reasonably well in my job to mean “don’t expect an answer if you email me before XX/XX/XXX”.

    2. Ali G*

      Since my job doesn’t pay for my phone, I don’t have international access. You want me to check in while I am gone? Pony up or deal with not being able to contact me for the duration.
      But I do also try to take vacations that force me off the grid anyway. This year we are taking a river cruise. They probably have wi-fi but no one else needs to know that.

    3. TardyTardis*

      I have gone to several resorts where the internet is um…iffy even when it’s advertised they have it. Sure it works fine in the business office, but so not in unit #1256 on the other side of the koi pond…

  14. TootsNYC*

    I think complete secrecy makes things worse. Of course you can’t share the details about their employment, but you can certainly share the things that affect other people, as Alison points out.

    But even with layoffs, I wish there were less secrecy.

    I still remember the time the Department Boss called us all together to say there had been layoffs for cost-cutting reasons, and that the people who’d been laid off had been valued team members, and we should be helpful to the people who’d been laid off, and that essentially all the cuts were done–but never mentioned WHO got laid off.

    Which translated to everyone going back to their desks and gossiping to try to figure out who it was.
    It wasn’t shameful or even confidential–it was budgetary. So whey didn’t she say, “Susan, and Wakeen, and Fergus.” She could even have led a round of applause for them, or something.

  15. AnonyMouse*

    OP #1- As long as you don’t do what happened at a former internship of mine (which was hold a passive aggressive meeting after the firing of another intern to talk about the offense in great detail and then make belittling comments to the remaining interns about how you’re thinking of cutting the internship program as a result) you’ll probably be fine!

  16. Falling Diphthong*

    I’m vexed by the freelancer. (As a freelancer.) What OP is doing is exactly how trial runs should work–give someone a small assignment and see how it goes. If you don’t like their work, you pay them but don’t hire them again. If they don’t like the assignment (e.g. requirements and deadlines keep moving, or time-pay are out of balance) then they bill you for this piece and don’t take more assignments from you.

    This falling on your sword stuff is really only appropriate if it’s a situation like you’d done some background research and scribbles but not gotten anything close to a draft knocked together when a family emergency crashes everything and you won’t be able to complete it in any reasonable time frame. I can see just not billing if trying to get it pulled into shape for someone else to be able to figure out where I was would take way more hours than I had to give.

  17. Cobol*

    One nitpick about announcing a firing. I do believe it is a requirement for all incorporated companies and partnerships to conclude all firing announcements with “we wish them luck in their future endeavors.”

    How else will everybody know whether they were laid off or resigned?

    1. LaDeeDa*

      Firing emails should include a gif of NYNC “Bye bye bye” Then it would be really clear :)

    2. Close Bracket*

      “How else will everybody know whether they were laid off or resigned?”

      Well, first of all, if they resigned, there would probably have been two weeks notice. Second, why does it matter to you? If you are close enough with the person, they will contact you and let you know. If not, you don’t need to know.

      1. MayLou*

        I could be wrong but I read that as sarcastic, as in, “they only ever include that phrase insincerely, when they have fired someone”. I could be wrong.

        1. Cobol*

          It was very much sarcasm. I’ve worked for multinationals and small not for profit and all have ended every firing email with we wish them luck in their future endeavors. It rings unbelievably hollow, akin to a customer service response if we apologize for the inconvenience

          1. Budgie Buddy*

            “We wish them luck in all future endeavors so that they will never be tempted to show their faces around here again.” I gotcha.

          2. edj3*

            Huh. In all the companies I’ve worked for, I’ve only ever seen that phrase (or the similar one of “pursuing other opportunities) for people who were laid off or otherwise let go but not for cause.

  18. SezU*

    We all appreciate your comments, Alison, but no justification needed. Your work speaks for itself.

    1. SezU*

      The above comment, of course, was supposed to respond to Alison’s defense to a reader that doesn’t like that this links to Inc.

  19. Acornia*

    I don’t know if you can adequately coach someone through their troubles and obstacles if you’re not willing to *listen* to them. I don’t care what “techniques” you think you have, unless there’s a mutual communication about the situation, they won’t work, because people need to feel heard before they can feel helped.
    Lecturing and teaching techniques isn’t coaching. Coaching is two-way. You need to *understand* their obstacles before you can help.
    There are some great ways to learn how to be a better listener. The Lost Art of Listening and I Hear You are two good books you can start with.

    1. Mary*

      That depends on what the coaching is for. Coaching can be specific and focussed on one area of someone’s life, and it might be completely unnecessary and unhelpful to get into personal relationships or traumas.

      I am a careers adviser and often do careers coach: I’m not a counsellor or a therapist and whilst we might explore how some aspects of someone’s family situation impact on their career-decision-making, it would be completely inappropriate for me to get into darker emotional territory.

  20. ohgeeeeeez*

    At my work the person disappears, their desk is cleared out a day or so later, and the staff directory gets updated. THAT’S IT. It feels like people are constantly appearing and disappearing. Very eerie.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      I just recently left a job (got a new, better one) and no announcement via email was made. I told people as I got closer to my last day, but seriously? My old company was so weird about people leaving.

    2. Kyle*

      My current employer used to be very good about sending out notices like Allison’s example, but two summers ago we had a major re-org, one crazy drill sergeant manager who fired half his department and just a lot of people going, they stopped sending out notices because it was hurting morale. So now the only notice we get is when HR is cleaning out somebody’s desk.

  21. Allison*

    My concerns, when I hear that someone is no longer with the company, are:

    1) Were they laid off due to budget reasons, and if so, are they currently evaluating my value to the company as well?
    2) Were they let go due to performance reasons, and if so, am I guilty of similar performance issues that I am yet unaware of? Am I about to have a serious meeting with the higher-ups? (this is especially concerning if I never noticed them struggling or acting in a manner that seemed unprofessional to me)
    3) Were they unhappy with the company, and if so, are there organizational issues that I am unaware of that might impact me in the near future?

    TO BE CLEAR, I DO NOT THINK I AM ENTITLED TO THIS INFORMATION! I think there’s a difference between wanting to know and being curious, and demanding answers. But I do think a thoughtful hiring announcement can help put those concerns to rest, even if the concerns aren’t directly addressed. I hope that makes sense. I often post comments here like “I’d want to know ____” and someone’s response will sound like “tough shit you entitled snowflake brat, that information isn’t FOR you!” Like, I never said it was, but I was just being honest about what was on my mind, y’know? So I hope this comment doesn’t make me sound entitled.

  22. ThatGirl*

    I had a coworker abruptly fired for ….. something bad, I don’t even know what. We had a meeting called very abruptly and the team was pulled into a room and basically told “Bob was just let go for violating company policy, we wanted to tell you all at once, don’t gossip, the end”.

    1. tangerineRose*

      This is the kind of method that basically ensures that people will gossip.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        The time at Exjob when a social work manager on an agency contract got terminated early over the way he spoke to a service user (more to it but I shouldn’t elaborate) we all got an email saying something like “Just to let you know that Daniel Osbourne’s contract with the Scoobies has come to an end today. Tara Maclay will be taking up her post as manager in two weeks time; if anyone on Daniel’s team has any issues in the meantime please speak to myself or Xander Harris”. It didn’t take long for the gossip to spread about what had happened (the incident had witnesses which also contributed).

      2. Kyle*

        We had somebody fired and our manager said “Jane won’t be working here anymore, we can’t give you any details, if any of you are friends with her outside of work I advise you to cease your friendship with her.”

        So that last comment just set off the firestorm of gossip. Weeks and weeks later someone heard that she had allegedly tried to extort the company.

    2. Mimi*

      We had one of these in a job I worked in a few years ago, except I had actually been present at the “company policy violation” (the employee was a contractor who showed up to work a MAJOR customer event incredibly drunk. Imagine the greeter at the door for hundreds of paying customers slurring, making inappropriate jokes, etc.). I was asked not to say anything to other employees by HR because of wanting to protect the former employee’s privacy, but of course everyone wanted to know what had happened, and eventually it spread (though not from me!).

    3. Flash Bristow*

      One guy was fired when the police arrested him at work over online kiddy porn issues.

      Sure, nobody was going to gossip about that…

      …oh no, we did.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Before I was redeployed to my current role someone got arrested and fired for the same thing, although I don’t know if he was arrested at work. That made the local paper so everyone knew.

        A couple of years later, a new apprentice was doing the post and a piece of junk mail had arrived for that guy. Not knowing the story, he asked who it was, and someone said “Oh, he left under a cloud,” and then proceeded to tell him exactly why. Our manager walked in in the middle of that and was not happy.

    4. Wade Lynch*

      I would assume “caught watching porn on company time” and/or “caused the company’s intranet to become infected with ransomware, possibly due to watching porn”.

    5. TardyTardis*

      Ha, that sounds like the person who was running a little business off the company’s computers…

  23. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Five years. No paid vacation. As an Office Manager? Are you kidding me? You can get more money and benefits just about anywhere else, these people are taking the piss! But also I know that these are the kind of people who have the nerve to ask you to be available for them, during an unpaid vacation, so I pray that they’re not dimwitted to assume you’re easily replaceable and fire you for pushing back. Man. I’ve seen too much crap in my life, they’re evil bees.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Yeah I hadn’t noticed the part-time part, in that case, it’s really not worth bothering with people at all.

  24. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Freelancers are vendors, so don’t stress out about her not wanting to take payment. It’s like if someone sends you faulty product and says “you know what, here’s a credit memo, just junk them.” You don’t demand they take your payment! It feels different because it’s an individual and not a buck of spoiled octopus or something like that but in reality, it’s the same. They contracted to do work, you were happy to pay them and just not hire them again, they told you that it’s a wash.

    HOWEVER! You should have gotten her details before this point. When you hire someone or a vendor, you should be getting a W9 because taxes =)

  25. Shadowette*

    OP #3 There may be laws that come into play for someone that refuses to claim a paycheck. You may want to search your jurisdiction for unclaimed paychecks or paycheck escheat to make sure.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s not a paycheck.

      It’s illegal if it’s a paycheck, you have to have the W2 filled out that way and you’d have that information.

  26. Working Mom Having It All*

    Re #2, something like this recently happened to me, but I am the freelancer in this situation.

    I was contracted to do some freelance copywriting work almost a month ago. I sent the work in exactly meeting the deadline, by close of business on the assigned date. I never heard ANYTHING from the person who contracted this work. Not negative feedback, just… radio silence. I have no idea if what I did was so bad as to be beneath notice to give even the worst feedback, if they just don’t do that and simply ghost people whose work they didn’t like, or if something happened completely unrelated to my work on this project. They haven’t published the copy I sent, though I don’t know their publishing schedule and how long their lead times are. They also haven’t paid me. We’re still just under the 30 day grace period before I go full on “PAY ME NOW”, but still… it’s not only odd but demoralizing. Like… am I that bad a writer that they just ghosted me?

    1. Working Mom Having It All*

      ugggghhhhh I meant LW #3, not #2. I wish this one involved a vacation…

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It may not be because you did anything wrong! Some people are just bad at confirming receipt of things. I’m assuming they got it because I’d think if something didn’t come in by deadline they’d be knocking at your [virtual] door asking “Where is it!?”

      You’re shouldering this without any feedback. They may just stink, really, push this back on them for being unprofessional to even send out a “thanks for this!” confirmation to you. If they don’t pay you at 30 days, then it’s another “WTF is wrong with you?” because they’re possibly trying to make you chase them for your rightful pay. Again, don’t assume it was bad and that’s the reason!!!

      1. Working Mom Having It All*

        Yeah, I’m halfway to “did the person who hire me get fired, and nobody else knows I exist???”

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I’ve seen some crazier sh*t in my life!

          Or maybe they got sick because man…this cold n flu season is trying to destroy us all I’m learning.

          1. TardyTardis*

            Both of us are down with it at our house, husband is a week ahead of me so I know what I’m going to be facing, oh whee.

  27. Collingswood*

    Regarding the request for the part time worker to work during unpaid time off, would the company be required to pay her for time worked? Or for being “on call”?

  28. gwal*

    “On the other hand, my goal is to get them in for a one-on-one session…”

    This sounds like the LW doesn’t want to do too much (listening, assessing) work on the free intake session, not that they’re trying to see IF further sessions are appropriate.

  29. GreenDoor*

    #5, I disagree somewhat with Alison’s advice. I think it would be OK to go to the boss and be candid. “I was taken aback by your announcement that the hierarchy is now flat. BEing that I was managing the temps, I would have appreciated a heads-up about the change in plans and the opportunity to discuss how we’d transition the work. Can you tell me what happened?”

    To announce that out of nowhere and leave the OP guessing about what happened (was it performance related? a directive from higher up? a misunderstanding?) is really bad for morale and I think OP should be able to ask for an explaination – and make it respectfully clear how shocking/confusing/uncool that was.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      I once saw a situation where someone got redeployed to my team when her manager felt she would be a better fit to a role on my team that someone else had recently quit. Unfortunately, neither manager actually sat her down and explained that she was being moved to a role on a lower grade. She found out when she got a new ID badge with her new job title on. Not a good way to handle it.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I was in a situation like #5 too, when I moved internally to join a new group to (I believed) lead a specific project. After the move, there was a meeting where I, and everyone else, learned that the lead title was going to another team member. That announcement was made by the outgoing lead, who had led me to believe I was replacing them directly but who then said they “promised” that title to the other person, who was not qualified for the role.

      Since the situation directly impacts the LW’s work statement, it absolutely makes sense to get clarification from the manager on what is going on. FWIW it didn’t sound like a demotion exactly, more like a smoothing out of the work across the now-coworkers, and the LW’s pseudo-managing role was only in place while the temps were training up. But that should have been clear from the start, and definitely talked through with LW once the decision was made to bring the temps on and redistribute the work.

      In my situation, I brought it up with the manager who was non-confrontational to the extreme and had just gone along with the previous lead’s decision. It wasn’t a demotion for me, just a misunderstanding. He mistakenly thought I would just do the lead work without the title.

  30. ShwaMan*

    OP2: I’m always somehow surprised how many people seem to be in these sort of situations. I hope OP2 can start to realize and project an attitude of “They need me more than I need them.” They rely on you a lot, probably don’t want to lose you. You have POWER. Be more forward in what you ask. Have the attitude that you deserve and can negotiate for better conditions than you have, or you can find better elsewhere. (Project this even if you know jobs are tough to come by!)

  31. VictorianCowgirl*

    OP3: if you don’t have address info, then you don’t have a W-9 on this contractor, which will prevent you from being able to process her form 1099 at the end of the year if she reached the threshold. Are there others? This is not a good practice, especially for a charity which I gather is a nonprofit – you want to have proper expense substantiation and record keeping and keep the charity’s nose clean with regards to end of year filings. Many set a policy to have all vendors give a W-9 form before paying them.

  32. Kyle*

    I’ve done the same thing as OP2. I picked up ongoing freelance working and after two weeks I got an email basically eviscerating my work quality saying I had done a terrible job and they were extremely unhappy with my work and they no longer needed my services and please submit an invoice for what work I had done. I was so embarrassed I never submitted an invoice.

  33. whatwhatwhat*

    (a little late to the discussion, I know)

    RE: laptop on vacation, I wouldn’t say anything other than “You’re not paying me so I am not working on those days. I have left detailed instructions with Anastasia and Mortimer re: the following things that will need to be done in my absence… (etc.)”

    Using the excuse of family preferences or spotty internet access implies that you would work or be available if not for those things, and that is not the case (plus the boss may push back with “Well, just find a way”.)

    Also, find another job. This is way beyond reasonable.

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