is there a best time of day to fire someone?

A reader writes:

I know you’ve talked a lot about the kindest ways to fire someone. I was wondering what your opinion is on the time of day it’s done.

Recently one of my coworkers was let go. At the end of the workday, another manager ushered everyone else who was around (we’re a small office) into a fake meeting so that the employee would be able to pack up his desk in peace. This is how I have seen several other firings happen, and I thought that it seemed fair.

However, several of my coworkers were upset about the way it was handled and said that it should have happened at the beginning of the day. I can see their side; maybe it’s better to do it first thing in the morning and get it over with. However, I personally think that it could cause more commotion because everyone is arriving in the morning, saying hi, making coffee, etc., and the poor employee has to pack up and leave with everyone staring.

I answer this question 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.

{ 315 comments… read them below }

  1. Jennifer*

    Never o’clock.

    Honestly, I’d be more annoyed if I’d driven all the way to work only to be fired the second I walked through the door. I think the best day and time to fire someone is the end of the day on Friday. You have the weekend to lick your wounds and plan your comeback. And at least a paycheck for a full week coming soon.

    1. Justme, The OG*

      I live in the city where a large multinational corporation has their headquarters. When they fire people, they find out because their keycards don’t work, then HR ushers them into a private meeting room to give them the news.

      1. Nicelutherangirl*

        Good heavens, that almost has a “Russian roulette” feel to it. I wonder now many employees show up at the office each morning wondering if their keycard will work.

        1. ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

          Running joke at a place I was at. Your keycard would expire on your anniversary date. The receptionist had the full power to check if you were still in employ and update it before the date but on her small power trip, she never did. Then we had to to knock on the door and then call reception to check what was up. Nerve wracking though as the first thought (as this company was struggling) oh, god, is this the day?

        2. animaniactoo*

          I still panic slightly every time I type my log-in wrong and it doesn’t work. Because for a long time, that was the first clue that you were being fired. You’d show up, try to log-in to your computer, and discover that IT had already pulled your access. It hasn’t happened that way in a few years now and I still have that slight panic moment.

          1. DCGirl*

            Me too! That happened the first time I was laid off in a long career, and it took a couple of years to get over that feeling of dread whenever my computer was down.

          2. Sara*

            About a year ago, my organization changed the password requirements. About a month after the change went into effect and I changed my password, I got locked out of my computer and kinda panicked a little – there was no reason I could think of that it had happened so my paranoid brain jumped right to them firing me.

            Went to the help desk, turned out it was likely because my iPad (not used for work, had just been taken off airplane mode for the first time in a month) kept trying to sign into my work email with the wrong password…

            1. TootsNYC*

              I had that–except it wasn’t MY iPad. And we couldn’t find it.

              They ended up permanently blocking that iPad, figuring that whoever had it would have to show up to get it reset. They never did.

          3. pope suburban*

            That was how I was laid off from two jobs. The first time, it was very much a “right had doesn’t know what the left is doing,” because my computer wigged out when I was mid-assignment, I called IT, and she told me she’d look at and fix it. I kept working for maybe another hour before I got the call from the practice manager to come to her office. I was stunned for a moment (This was my first “adult job” after college; I was green), but ultimately not surprised, since the firm had been scarily low on billable hours for months, and had been cutting nonessential staff/not hiring replacements for people who left for other jobs. Of course the interns are going to be on the chopping block. They did a terrible job of communicating the decision to the people I had been working for, though, and one of them found out when I called him the next week to ask if I could use him as a reference. I was weirdly comforted that people were shocked, since I’d been doing good work. I could have done without the practice manager doing a 180 and claiming I was fired for cause in an attempt not to pay UI, but they got shot down swiftly, so in the end it didn’t matter.

            The second time, I was in and working, figuring that my email issues were nothing more than the occasional IT problem (It happened sometimes, nothing that took long to fix) that would get sorted when the IT guy got in. The temp agency called me at my desk and asked me to come to their office to meet, so I had to tell everyone (It was a small office) that I was leaving, which was…fun. They were all shocked since we hadn’t had any problems and I was mid-project on some big assignments; one of the junior engineers actually cried. Turned out that the office manager, known to be deeply incompetent. had canceled their contract with the temp agency on the sly. Not a huge surprise because the posting was temp-to-perm after six months, which also never happened, and about which she gaslit me, though they were happy enough with my work to keep me on for a year and a half. The silver lining is that she burned her bridge with the temp agency; they were *pissed* at how she’d treated them. Didn’t do herself many favors with the employees either, though if she didn’t change after people had quit because of her, I doubt this made an impression.

        3. Pay your employees*

          Or who accidentally have their card not work because they scratched it or laid it next to a magnet or something. Such a stupid system. If they’re set on being heartless about it just have hr waiting right inside and have it revoke access and deactivate their card during the meeting.

      2. Tammy*

        I worked for a company once that announced a large (several hundred people) layoff by having someone come into the office at 4am to deactivate the badges of the people who were being fired. It was…definitely not great, and it became the source of some gallows humor among those who were left. There were even jokes describing swiping your badge to unlock the door as “playing the ‘am I still employed?’ slot machine.”

        I left (voluntarily) not long after that.

          1. Tammy*

            As I recall, the nature of the layoff (unforeseen business circumstances) plus the number of contract employees made the move not subject to the WARN Act. But I don’t know for sure. My own departure shortly thereafter made me not pay a whole lot of attention.

          2. Not Me*

            If they were still paying them for the WARN period they don’t to be working during the notice period.

            1. Tammy*

              Yeah, could have been that too. As I said, I didn’t pay too close attention to how that transpired, because I left not that long afterward anyway. (And, frankly, I was early-career and didn’t know better; I’d be much more interested now.)

          3. Feline*

            Mike C, your post made me Google WARN act for my state, and I see the massive layoff that laid me off was in violation. Huh.

      3. GeorgiaLibrarian*

        Company my dad worked at locked the Chicago office and wouldn’t let anyone in. Employees had to sue to be able to come in and get their personal effects from their desks. (This was the 80’s, so think photos of their kids and a sweater).

        1. JustaTech*

          There were rumors of a biotech in my city that took everyone out to lunch and padlocked the doors shut. They mailed people’s desk stuff to them later.

          It made the whole industry (understandably) paranoid.

      4. pancakes*

        This keyboard business seems gratuitously fraught. It’s not unheard of for keyboard cables to be loosened or stop working, and there’s no good reason people should be wondering whether they’re being fired when that happens!

      5. uh*

        My employer does not let them in past security. They are met with a box of their stuff from the desk.

      6. ceiswyn*


        I once turned up to work to discover that my keycard had stopped working – two weeks after I’d given notice, but two weeks before my final day.

        Our corporate IT was based in the US. They’d revoked my access to all the corporate systems on the assumption that I’d worked two weeks’ notice and left. Given the time difference, we didn’t get it straightened out until the end of the day.

        Fortunately the most critical systems that I was working with were all local, and the local system admins knew all about a one month notice period. Because I had a LOT of work still to do :)

      7. MatKnifeNinja*

        Bonus round, all your stuff is FedEx-ed home. You can’t even say good bye to coworkers, nothing.

        Wasn’t there a post about people not even getting into the building proper after a required off site lunch meeting? That’s true kick in the head. Meeting, fired and can’t collected your office things.

      8. Zephy*

        Whenever the time clock malfunctions or the computer takes just a little longer to boot up, there’s some tiny voice in my head saying “this is how you find out you’re fired.” I’ve never worked for a company big and faceless enough to do that, though.

    2. Sleepless*

      I have a friend who was laid off as soon as she got to work. After driving an hour in traffic. She was NOT amused.

      1. Jennifer*

        I would have been PISSED. Y’all could have called me at home and I would’ve gone back to sleep. Ship me my things.

        1. Emily K*

          Honestly I know it’s very much Not Done for Reasons but I think everyone would be a lot more comfortable if firings could happen over email. Just like everyone would rather get a rejection email than a rejection call from a job.

          1. goducks*

            I think firings over email might *feel*better for everyone, but the reality is you can’t rely on the fact that anybody will actually read that email before showing up to a job that they don’t know that they don’t work at anymore.
            Apparently, among the younger generations, reading their email isn’t so much a thing anymore.

            1. goducks*

              Also, if you fired someone via email, other people would probably find it “coldhearted” or “cruel”.

            2. Flower*

              Really? I’m 24, and almost everyone my age I know gets their emails on their phones, so we always at least look at the subject line and preview. Sometimes, yeah, we look at that and go “oh, that’s a mass email that doesn’t apply to me, just toss it”, but that’s the nature of big email lists. When emailing other people my age, I usually expect a response within a day at most.

              Some people my age only look at their work email inbox while actually at work. Good boundaries, probably. I just forward my work emails to my personal email so no matter when they’re sent, I get them. Bad boundaries, almost definitely.

              1. Oaktree*

                Some of us don’t have our work emails forwarded because they’re privileged information and really can’t be subject to a breach via your gmail account or whatever. I’m 29.

                Also, yes, it’s bad boundaries. Get out of this habit before it’s too late. It won’t serve you.

                1. NotAnotherManager!*


                  I would suspect that forwarding company emails to a personal account is also a breech of policy in a lot of organizations that don’t deal with privileged/PII data.

                  I would have to fire someone who was doing this. We cover why you can’t bring work data onto your personal devices/accounts during orientation (client confidentiality, FLSA issues for non-exempt staff, etc.), there is a mandatory data protection training, and unnecessary risks with client data (particularly for personal convenience) are simply not tenable.

            3. Alianora*

              In my experience it tends to be older people who don’t read all their email — sometimes because they’re higher-level and get a ton of email, and sometimes because they’re like my parents and never unsubscribe to any lists. But yeah, it’s not reliable as a firing method.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            There are really good reasons for not doing that! You don’t know when the person will read the email, so they might go about their day, having meetings, doing work, etc. And you also want it to be an actual conversation where they can ask questions.

            And yeah, people will think it’s callous and cowardly!

            1. mark132*

              Wouldn’t you also likely need the person to sign documents etc for stuff like severance?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                You generally get a couple of weeks to sign that stuff (they need to give you time to look it over, consult with a lawyer if you want).

                1. Foreign Octopus*

                  Do you get a severance if you get fired?

                  I assume for a layoff it’s more or less common, but is it something you get for a firing?

                2. Hiring Mgr*

                  The one time I got fired I did get a severance..( a better one than the time I was laid off), so I think it’s just depends on the individual situation, company, etc..

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  It depends. Some companies do it across the board, some do it case by case (like if it’s clear you were trying hard and the role just wasn’t a fit and they take some responsibility for that, or if they have reason to especially want a general release from you).

            2. CM*

              Alison, it might be interesting to do an entire post on firing practices… what you should do as an employer, what you should expect as an employee.

              1. Angela*

                I agree. Especially seeing how badly my last company handled it. If a manager handles firings badly, the other employees WILL talk and it WILL impact moral, and forever change the way they view the company and their boss. (In other words, don’t let someone go right before Christmas when it can be avoided. And give them a reason for it, for crying out loud!)

          3. Jennifer*

            Honestly, I would too. But I know why it’s problematic for a lot of reasons. I’d take a text message too.

        2. DogTrainer*

          I had to do this once to an employee. They were on suspension and had to drive in to have our conversation. HR and I felt it was best to have the conversation face-to-face with dignity, as opposed to over the phone. If we hadn’t done that, we would have been called cowards and it would have been said we didn’t respect the employee enough to do it in-person. There is no winning here.

          1. Essess*

            Agreed. I had to fire an employee who was a poor performer (constantly no-showed for work, attitude problems, had about 1 year of warnings in his file). My manager and I arranged that we would meet with him as soon as he arrived for his next shift. He called that morning and said he’d been in a car accident on the way to work and totaled his car and was in the emergency room being treated so he couldn’t come in that day. We couldn’t say anything to him over the phone to warn him that he was getting fired, so the next day he shows up for his shift in a cast and various bandages and we had to take him in to the office and fire him. I felt like crap firing him the day after his accident, but he’d had over a year of warnings.

        3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          That’s a mix of what happens at my place. The person is taken into a private meeting upon arrival, but their desk is cleaned later by the manager who ships it home. I put a note in my personal file and a letter with manager stating that if I am unable to return to my desk permanently, for any reason, throw it all away.
          Phone charger, stamps, cup o’ change, first come first serve. I have enough to go through.

        4. RUKiddingMe*

          Agreed. Honestly if I git to work and got fired my initial thought would be “cool now I can go get a mani/pedi.” But I never claimed to react to stuff like a normal person does…

        5. Lena Clare*

          Yes to this. There is NO good time to be fired, but after doing a day or week’s work? Or after travelling to get there? Ugh.

      2. Choux*

        Yep, I once got laid off over the phone as I was walking into the place, after an hour commute. I was furious.

      3. Unknown*

        This happened to me. Drove 45 minutes to work only to get immediately pulled into a meeting with HR about being laid off. Then they escorted me out of the building and I spent over an hour driving home (traffic was worse by that point). They didn’t say anything at the meeting except asking me to sign papers and telling me they have a policy against giving references, so it felt like a big waste of time for me.

      4. Parcae*

        I got fired at the board meeting I’d driven 8 hours to attend. A phone call would’ve killed them?

      5. Feline*

        I was laid off first thing in the morning by a VP way up the food chain, since my manager was remote. He was also a terrible manager and a coward for not at least dialing in to the layoff meetings for his employees. The layoffs continued for about five hours before they held the ubiquitous meeting of remaining employees to tell them they weren’t getting the axe in this round. I think I just drew the short straw of being first rather than it being malicious, though.

      6. Kathlynn (Canada)*

        This is one of the reason you are entitled to 2 hours work if you show up and your employer doesn’t need you where I live. Then your transit time isn’t wasted.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          Everybody in the states: check you state laws because we have this sometimes too (it varies by a lot but it’s good to know if you have it—like when I worked at a fast food place that tried to send you home if they weren’t “busy enough” and then would call 2 hours later saying to get your ass back to work for the lunch rush).

      7. SusanIvanova*

        Swiss law says you have to call people into the office to lay them off. Our Swiss coworker worked from home, a 5 hour drive to the nearest office. He was very much not happy about that.

        He also wasn’t supposed to be laid off in the first place: his employee number was in the single digits, his job was whatever he wanted it to be because his skills and institutional knowledge were just that valuable, and he just happened to still be in our division because there had never been any need to make a special job description for him. Division heads all over the company went ballistic when that got out. He got un-laid off quickly, but still had to do the whole drive all over again to straighten it out.

          1. SusanIvanova*

            Whoever was told to draw up the layoff list was just told “chop this entire subsection” – and yes, that decision was just as petty as it sounds. Aside from my team, everyone else in that division had only been with the company a few years, and they didn’t overlap with the teams that Employee 007 worked with, so they had no clue who he was or the significance of that double-0.

    3. mark132*

      I think I would prefer to be fired/laid off first thing in the morning. Commute or no commute, If that is the day, I want to be done with it and go home immediately.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Same, actually.

        I would hate to sit in an office or wherever all day only to find out that they were planning to fire me, but YMMV. Then again, I’d be upset about having to come into work for nothing, so there’s probably no winning with me. It’s going to suck no matter what.

      2. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Yes, at one of my recent jobs, we had layoffs that we knew were coming. People had 1:1 meetings with the VP set up over the course of a few days, at which they were finding out if they were going or staying. I somehow lucked out and had the 3rd timeslot, which meant that I got my answer quickly and was free to go. People who were later in the process had to ride the “am I being laid off or retained?” roller coaster because, honestly, there was no rhyme or reason to how they did it. It wasn’t like they did all the layoffs first, then switched to retention meetings. It was a jumbled mess.

        Anyhow, I was out of the office by 10 and could go home and process/cry in private.

      3. mcr-red*

        I would too. For some reason, waiting until the end of the day to me feels like a “ha ha, we got one more day’s work out of you sucker!” move.

        1. Jennifer*

          I get that. For me, in simplest terms, I drove there that day because I need the money. If you fire me at the end of the day, at least I got what I wanted out of it for the day, which is $$.

          1. Lucy*

            If they fire you first thing in the morning they should at least have the decency to pay you for that day.

    4. StillWorkingOnACleverName*

      I was terminated while on vacation on the other side of the country. I knew something was wrong because my phone wouldn’t connect to my work e-mail anymore. I called a colleague and asked if something was up, and she told me the system was just down. So I flew home, got up and dressed for work, only to walk in and see all my stuff from my office packed up by the front door.

      I couldn’t have cared less about losing that toxic job, but the way they handled it was such a slap in the face. There’s absolutely no reason to treat someone so horribly. If they’d just been professional I could’ve extended my trip, which is exactly what I would’ve done.

      1. Gyratory Circus*

        I had a co-worker years ago who got a “you’re fired” phone call while on vacation, and when she came home she found a box on her front porch where they had FedExed all her stuff so she wouldn’t have to come in to the office.

      2. Jennifer*

        They could have at least told you before you went on vacation. You may have even decided not to go to save some money, or got some much-needed R&R. The way they did it you were stressed out part of your trip and left early. Heartless.

      3. Chrysanthemum's The Word*

        I was laid off the Monday after my sister’s wedding. We had all kinds of relatives visiting my parent’s summer home but I left to go back to work like a good girl.

        The kicker was I worked with my sister and my brand new brother in-law…they intentionally planned to lay me off when they were on their honeymoon so they wouldn’t have to deal with all of us being angry.

        I literally got on the train back home and headed back to the lake to be with the rest of my family.

        1. LPUK*

          Wow. That must make family events that much more interesting!! what a cold premeditated thing to do.

          1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

            She worked *with* not for her sister and BiL. The company didn’t want to deal with the angry newly-weds plus CtW

            1. Ego Chamber*

              I had to read it twice to get that too though. It’s the they/they/they referring to the company/the newlyweds/the newlyweds all in a row like that instead of subbing out 1 of the “they”s to clarify.

    5. Alexander Graham Yell*

      My old company it was towards the end of the day on Thursday – the thinking being you would start coming up with questions about benefits/references/etc. that night as you panicked about the future and that way there would be somebody who could answer them right away on Friday. They thought it helped take some of the anxiety out of the equation by making sure there would be a full day to get questions in before a weekend where you knew for sure you couldn’t get an answer.

      1. Artemesia*

        This makes a lot of sense to me. It lets you do that first flush of business moves you need to do while things are open as well.

      2. harmeg*

        My first [corporate] company was a Thursday firing place, and the saying was that that was statistically the day that produced the least suicides after firings. Who knows. I just know it always sucked to watch HR walk people to their cars during layoff rounds.

    6. kittymommy*

      Our place tends to do it at the end of the day as well. Typically right before it’s time to go. Sometimes it happens Friday just after close of business, but that’s mainly for the offices where people stay late most other days. It’s a running joke when a meeting is set for 5pm on a Friday (a meeting when it’s not for letting someone go).

    7. MrsCHX*

      I’d say Thursday (or Wednesday) afternoon with pay on Friday (and Thursday). There are some studies that shows morning is better than end of day and T-Th are better than M or F.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        Do you have a handy link to any of those studies? Reading through the comments, it seems like this is highly dependent on the individual and circumstances outside of just the firing.

        Personally, I would haaaate it if I got up, got ready and came to work—just to be sent right back out the door with nothing to do, and I’d resent wasting the time and gas money. (Multiply that by commute time: the remote workers who are forced by their company to travel long distances just to get fired have it especially rough.)

    8. Wintermute*

      Friday is certainly a common school of thought, but then other people counter that they’re potentially left with all this motivation to go get cracking and won’t be able to make use of it until monday (and the practical matter of them not being able to apply for unemployment until Monday in most states, potentially delaying their first check a week).

      Ultimately, just like a breakup, there will never be a good, unobjectionable time. You can make a case for first thing in the morning, for last thing before they leave, for fridays, for mondays, for any combination in between. Just like Alison said, you can make the case for any time being best but at the end of the day it’s about how they were treated.

    9. Zephy*

      My best friend lost a job that way, driving all the way to work only to be fired the second she walked through the door. We were roommates at the time (4 of us, renting a house), so I heard her leave, and half an hour later heard her come back…mostly because she opened the door and shouted “GUESS WHO DOESN’T HAVE A REASON TO STAY HERE ANYMORE.” I think it was a Wednesday morning.

      (We’re still friends. Her family had moved across the state and she planned to join them after we found someone to take over her portion of rent and bills. This would have happened eventually, but she would have preferred to be the one to make the decision about when.)

    10. Not Rebee*

      My current company seems to do sudden and ominous 10am meetings at the conference room off the lobby. While you’re in the meeting signing your paperwork and being told all the deets, facilities and IT is sitting at the front desk yanking your access and permissions and waiting to collect your devices and badges on your walk out.

  2. goducks*

    It used to be that if you fired someone on a Friday, they had to wait until Monday to apply for UI. Thankfully, the modern age has allowed people to do that online 24/7, so I no longer have that as a consideration in timing.

    I think that being able to do something concrete to secure a source of income right away goes a long way for people’s mental well-being post termination, which is already stressful enough.

    These days when I find myself in position to have to fire someone, I don’t follow any hard rules. I just try to read the room, so to speak, and find the moment that allows for the terminated employee to retain the most dignity.

    1. Cube Ninja*

      At least some states still restrict filings for unemployment benefits. MN is one of them, so being termed on a Monday definitely stinks.

      Ironically, the MN unemployment benefit online portal also only functions during their daytime business hours.

      1. ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        Wait, what?! The ONLINE portal only is functional during business hours? How weird is that?

        1. MrsCHX*

          Another Minnesotan…

          The phone system is only available during business hours as well. MN is so quaint in some ways. LOL!

        2. Wintermute*

          That is super common for government systems, I have no legitimate clue why unless it’s to comply with some kind of legislative “fairness” mandate that says they must provide the same level of service to phone and walk-up customers and thus since they don’t want 24/7 offices and call lines they have to limit the online portal.

          A ton of government systems are a master class in the law of unintended consequences and good intentions.

      2. goducks*

        They won’t let you file? My state requires a waiting week for benefits, but you can file at any time.

        1. Amira*

          The website is *closed* during non-business hours.

          Yes, it is absolutely mind-boggling, it is the internet! The internet doesn’t CLOSE. (I think they do it so that they are reviewing cases as they’re filed, or this is what I’ve told myself to keep from beating my head on the desk when I would go onto the site before or after hours.)

          1. alphabet soup*

            Maybe they are doing it to not penalize folks who cannot file online? Like, if they process claims in a first-come, first-served kind of queue, people who file online at their convenience have a clear advantage over the person who has to come in and wait to file during business hours.

            That’s the only logical reason for doing so I can think of.

            1. Amira*

              Yeah, that makes sense – but it’s still kind of absurd to go to get onto a website and it tells you it’s “closed”. I remember hitting the page before hours and just being completely baffled.

              I do wonder if you’ve hit the nail on the head here, or if it’s just some kind of odd red tape…

            2. goducks*

              UI isn’t based on competing with others who file, though. It’s a benefit for everyone who qualifies. Having your claim filed before Fred’s doesn’t lessen Fred’s chances of having his claim approved, so I can’t see how forcing people to use daytime hours can create fairness.

      3. Liane*

        Arkansas’ online filing hours for an initial claim are 6am-6pm, business days.* BUT you still have to go in to complete the claim…even though all that happens 9 times of 10 is they have you go to a landline phone to talk to a claims person.

        *7 days/week, including holidays to file for subsequent weeks.

    2. Plain Jane*

      In my state, the UI system doesn’t let you apply online until the business day after the termination.

      1. TootsNYC*

        If I were in that state, that would be my argument for terminating people on Thursday. So the very next day, at least, they can go file for unemployment insurance.

        1. Anonymosity*

          That’s what I said below–and in places where internet may be sketchy or the fired person doesn’t have it, they can just go in the next day.

    3. Bilateralrope*

      >I think that being able to do something concrete to secure a source of income right away goes a long way for people’s mental well-being post termination, which is already stressful enough.

      Which why I’m thinking that firing someone without notice is never a good way to fire someone. If you’re worried about them stealing company secrets, remove them from the premises immediately. But pay them as if they worked their notice period.

      Though I’m outside the US, in a country where firing someone without notice is illegal unless they have committed “serious misconduct”. Anything less than that any the law requires they get paid for their notice period, even if they aren’t allowed to do any work in that time.

      1. TootsNYC*

        In most budgetary cuts, people are paid severance, they just don’t work through it.

        If someone is just not performing well, you might not get severance–or you might negotiate it, or sometimes a company will say, “geez, we hired her, so part of this is our fault, so let’s give her a couple of weeks of severance. The money’s in the budget anyway, since the position will probably sit empty at least a couple of weeks while we hire.”

      2. MsSolo*

        I was having trouble articulating to myself why so much of this discussion seemed so different to my experience, and of course, it’s firing without notice. I know a lot of people don’t always choose to work their notice period – and those that do often spend most of it using the business’s internet to browse for new jobs – but it definitely affects a lot of the elements discussed here if you know that you’re going to have to go back to your desk and keep going for another month after the difficult conversation.

  3. Kelly*

    I think this is completely dependent on where you work, the person being fired, and a whole world of other variables. Not one size fits all (or even most)

  4. Mr M*

    A company I worked for for a couple of decided would handle layoffs by calling a most employee meeting and shutting the door to the conference room. Then they would announce that if you were in this meeting, your job was safe. Cuing everyone to look around to see who wasn’t there. The doors were re-opened only after those who weren’t at the meeting had gathered their personal belongings and had been escorted out of the building…

    1. Karyn*

      My company apparently had a meeting the Monday after the layoffs, where the remaining employees were assured that their bonuses would not be affected by the firm’s economic issues that resulted in the layoffs. Meanwhile, they’d also just had a blowout party (described below) on the day of the layoffs. The meeting did not go over well.
      My boss, one of the remaining partners who was adamently against the layoffs, described it as, “Putting a bandaid on a bullethole after shooting ourselves in the foot.”

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      We were warned of impending layoffs at old toxic job. The day in question, managers walked around and tapped people on the shoulders to go into a conference room and it quickly became obvious that those people were being let go. It was beyond nerve wracking sitting there waiting to see if your manager was going to come up and tap you.

      1. TardyTardis*

        We had layoffs like that one time close to the Easter season (I felt pretty confident because I had a fairly large amount in the company ESOP and since it was 2008, had a funny feeling that cash flow was a major concern). Since my last name is a juvenile ovine animal, I joked with one of the other workers who was also pretty safe about leaving a small smidgen of blood on her cubicle to celebrate Passover. She laughed and almost hit me…).

    3. Bulbasaur*

      I worked for a company that did it this way, although they weren’t quite as strict about it and we did get to speak to the people on their way out. I think it’s a fairly common practice in the US, where the feeling seems to be that you get people out of the office ASAP once they are told. Once we’d had a few rounds we learned to recognize the signs (short notice meeting invites late in the day, with vague or uninformative titles) and the gossip network would go into overdrive as we figured out who was in which of the two meeting rooms.

      In other countries managers will typically meet with the affected staff individually and let them know. This only works if you are prepared to keep them around for a while and set an end date in the future, which is actually a legal requirement in some places (e.g. you might need to present it as a plan first, offer reasons, and then entertain other possible solutions that might allow the person to keep their job). This has always felt like a healthier process to me – they got to process the news, come to terms with it and start on making a plan, as well as say their goodbyes properly. With the other system my final impression was usually of a bunch of shell-shocked people clearing out their desks.

      In my opinion the best time is as soon as possible after you make the decision, avoiding any times that are obviously bad. If they are currently blowing out the candles on their birthday cake, for example, you might want to wait a little while.

      1. Feline*

        I have mixed feelings about being kept around with an end date in the future. On one hand, bills continued to be paid, which was nice. On the other hand, I was expected to fully train offshore Indian contractors to do my job with absolutely none of the best practice training in dealing with the differences in cultures. AS a result, the training process was far more difficult than it needed to be, which made the frustrating process seem like more of a punishment. My manager saw my frustration and told me, “Well, what do you expect out of them for what they’re getting paid?”which was demoralizing.

    4. Rosalind Franklin*

      My former company did that, via a lunch meeting for most of the company. The CEO got up and would not shut up, while I was going crazy because I didn’t know if we were the safe group or not. Finally, eventually he came clean, and we ate extremely expensive frou frou pizza (which, optics were not great, that place was expensive).

  5. ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    I was laid off at 10:30, a full two hours into my job, on a Tuesday and the day right before a statutory holiday. This meant I would not be paid for the holiday and the holiday was essentially ruined. Home before noon.

    I fully understand *why* I was laid off. I still don’t understand the *how.* It was sloppy and there was no plan put in place to handle my work once I left. I get the feeling that the manager in question didn’t do this very often.

    1. Dahlia*

      I got told it was my last day 10 minutes before I then had to go and do said job, which involved working with children and having to be “on”.

  6. SheLooksFamiliar*

    OP, I’m echoing what Alison said. I’ve had to fire people, and I’ve been part of a team that notified people during layoffs. No matter how or when the news was delivered, someone found fault.

    I think your company’s approach was kind, regardless.

    1. goducks*

      It is one hundred percent true that no matter how you do it, someone will find fault. Invariably the person finding fault (other than the terminated person), is a person who has no access to relevant information but a lot of opinions. And of course you can’t discuss your reasons with this person, because you keep employee information confidential. But the person who finds fault is free to share their opinions on the matter with everyone.

      One of the eternal joys of management.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Very true, goducks. One company I was with announced there would be a series of layoffs, and that notifications would begin in 2-3 weeks. The people who were notified gave irate feedback about being taken by surprise, managers were keeping secrets about who was on the list, etc. Current employees, through their managers, suggested pre-notifications. They said we should tell people they were on the list and MIGHT be laid off – which we thought the company already did, just not directly. So we did this and, of course, got irate feedback: ‘Thanks a lot! Now I have THIS hanging over my head! Will I or won’t I have a job? Just tell me I’m laid off, or tell me nothing!’

        Yep. Even if you do what your employees ask, it will somehow be the wrong thing to do.

  7. Plain Jane*

    Whenever you do it, I would offer to pay an Uber or cab if it’s not at the end of the day. Some people take public transportation or carpool to work.

    If you’re shutting down their access to your payroll system, provide the employee with the date of their last check as well as the amount and what is hours worked, what is severance, and what is PTO payout so they have that info to apply for UI right away.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, those are really useful points, and the transport would be a kind touch, especially if they have to bring stuff home.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      The car is really a kindness. During the last mass layoffs at my company they provided everyone who didn’t drive in with cars. We had a lot of people who took the commuter coach, so this was really necessary.

    3. Ophelia*

      Also, if this is a firing where the timing can be a little flexible, am I right that firing someone at the beginning of the month gives them longer COBRA coverage? That would be a humane thing to take into consideration. (I understand that’s not an option for someone who needs to be gone, today.)

      1. Elizabeth Proctor*

        Maybe not exactly what you’re saying, but company policy can dictate how long an employee will be covered for. OldOldJob covered you through the end of the month regardless of when you left (I left mid-month), husband’s soon-to-be-OldJob covers you through your last day (he’s leaving the 29).

        1. Anonymosity*

          Yes, my last job (the one I got fired from) covered me through the end of that month. I ran around making appointments like a crazy person to get things covered before it ran out. COBRA coverage was out of the question; it’s far too expensive.

      2. goducks*

        Insurance contracts can either expire on termination of employment, or end of the month. If the employer has a termination of employment contract, when it falls in the month doesn’t make much difference. But if the employer has an end of the month contract, insurance stays in place until the last day of the month, and COBRA doesn’t begin until the first of the next month. Whether the employee decides to elect COBRA or not will depend on a lot of very employee-specific factors, but giving them a few weeks with continued insurance does give the employee some breathing room.

      3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        That’s such a good point. I had a boss who handled this the exact wrong way – she came to the decision around the middle of the month to fire an employee, but wanted to wait until the 1st to fire him so that his employer-sponsored health insurance would be valid for the entire month. However, his performance issues just kept getting worse and she didn’t want to actually manage him (she was a terrible manager under the best of circumstances and knowing he wouldn’t be around for long just made it worse). She ended up firing him three days before the end of the month, leaving him with virtually no health coverage. Don’t be like her!

        1. Liz*

          i was in a similar situation but the company, i’m pretty sure, or my bosses, let me finish out my full 5 years, so I’d be fully vested in my 401K. I don’t think it was a coincidence i was let go just two days after my 5 year anniversary.

          they did it around lunchtime, on a Friday, and told me i could a. pack up my stuff then or b. come back Monday. I was working in NY and living and commuting from NJ. I opted to pack up then. I wasn’t coming back in! What i didn’t expect was when i left my office, to do something, and came back to find some random employee i didn’t know poking around my supplies! Granted they were not mine, and the company’s but come on, have some decency to wait until I’ve actually left before you start picking through stuff!

          my friends, who were shocked i had been let go, finished packing up my stuff. And I think to stick it to the company, sent it ALL fed ex overnight. and added in a ton of stuff that wasn’t even mine. oops.

      4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It depends on the coverage as stated. This is why when I quit my last job, I stretched my notice period until the 2nd of the next month. They had to pay for my monthly premium, our insurance program doesn’t do partial months premiums, it would be so messy!

    4. Aleta*

      Yeah, at my old job, the bus didn’t come by our building after an hour or so after my start time – I’d have to walk a half hour to get to a bus stop it would go by.

  8. Turquoisecow*

    My old company used to always fire people on Friday mornings. They did mass layoffs at least once a year so people would start to get nervous on Fridays after a year had passed since the last one. Usually it was all over by lunch time and then people just spent the afternoon feeling anxious and stressed.

    The last round (before they closed) they had a bunch ofus in a big meeting/training session because the layoffs were part of a restructuring process and we were going to be taking on different roles – but we didn’t know about the layoffs beforehand. Some of the people in the meeting started getting texts from people not in the meeting and the whispers went around. The people not in that meeting had been in other training sessions as well but they weren’t selected to stay on.

    By the time we got out of the meeting, most of the laid off people were gone, except one woman who was taking her time packing up. We had all been told who our new bosses were and how the restructure was going to happen, except one woman. A bunch of meetings were scheduled for that afternoon with our new departments and that woman didn’t get the meeting request. She called the admin who had sent the email and she told her to contact her boss. She didn’t know who her new boss was so they said to talk to her old boss. He didn’t know and went to his boss.

    At 4:00, they pulled her aside to let her go, she had been forgotten in the earlier group. It ended up being an okay thing for her because she took a shuttle to the train station to get home and if she’d been released earlier she would have had to make other arrangements. But it was still kind of messed up.

    1. RVA Cat*

      “Mr. Lumbergh told me to talk to payroll and then payroll told me to talk to Mr. Lumbergh and I still haven’t received my paycheck and he took my stapler and he never brought it back and then they moved my desk to storage room B and there was garbage on it…”

  9. ThatGirl*

    My last company laid my whole team/half the department off on a Friday morning meeting, but I was going to be gone that day (flying to a vacation – couldn’t change it!) so they told me on Thursday afternoon on my way out of the office and swore me to secrecy. It was weird and awkward but sort of worked out – they packed my desk up for me (that part sucked because they broke some of my stuff) and once we got back from vacation I got the ball rolling on everything else.

    1. Maria Lopez*

      Unless they were doubling my severance or something similar, I would have told the entire team Thursday evening what was going on. And never allow someone to pack your stuff if you have the option to do it yourself. After decades in the workplace, I learned to minimize anything personal at my work station or office.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I wouldn’t. That’d be a great way to tank your future references from that employer.

      2. Antilles*

        And never allow someone to pack your stuff if you have the option to do it yourself.
        Most places I’ve worked generally require that you pack your own stuff (typically under observation by someone in HR or whatever) – if only because of the potential arguments/confusion about what’s actually the employee’s versus the company-owned. Nobody wants the follow-up call from an ex-employee asking about some missing piece of equipment or claiming that stuff was broken because of the way the company packed it or whatever.
        But maybe that’s specific to my industry – I work in an engineering field, so everybody brings in their own (surprisingly expensive) reference manuals, books, etc. And you certainly don’t want to get into he said/she said about whether or not a $495 book or a professional stamp was forgotten by a random HR employee.

        1. KickballSurfboard*

          This is really interesting, because in my industry it’s pretty common to not allow the employee to pack up their own stuff. Usually while the person is being fired someone from corp services gathers their daily personal stuff (coat, bags, etc.) and hands it to the employee out near the entrance. If the fired person needs anything else they will tell the corp services person and the corp services person will go retrieve it.

          Then all other items are boxed up and reviewed by the compliance dept, then mailed to the employee. We’re a highly regulated industry though and there are some major privacy/data concerns at play.

          1. MatKnifeNinja*

            My sister’s place has a security guard and the manager box up your stuff.

            When hired in, it is “strongly suggested” you leave nothing of value at work. This includes prescription drugs, pictures of grandkids, tech stuff… They do an inventory checklist of contents (if you ever have to put anything into a hospital safe, it’s similar to that type of form).

        2. TurquoiseCow*

          At my old office, there was usually a security guard (they brought in outside security just for the day of mass layoffs) standing over people as they boxed up their things. Most people got it done quickly and got out of there, but one woman took her sweet time probably taking more than an hour. The security guy was crazy patient with her, but the rest of us wanted her to leave, as it was already awkward.

      3. ThatGirl*

        Definitely couldn’t do that – they basically told me if I told anyone besides my husband that night I risked my whole severance package.

        I would have packed stuff myself, but it was not an option – I was three floors down from my desk with my purse/jacket and got walked out the front door.

    2. MarsJenkar*

      Wow, I’m looking at that situation and I can only think of how much more that would suck–you’re spending the vacation thinking about the fact that you have no job to go back to, and that you’re paying expenses from your savings that may take a long time to recover. I remember planning a vacation that I had to cancel because I got fired–eating the cancellation costs was preferable to taking a vacation I could no longer afford and would no longer be able to enjoy.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, we managed to have a pretty good trip anyway (it was mostly already paid for) but it was definitely a bit weird/surreal.

        the real kicker was our water heater died that night too. We shut the water off and literally just ran away from our problems for a week and then had to come home and deal with everything.

        1. MrsCHX*

          This happened to me once too! Well, not the water heater :-p

          My vacation was not hampered. If anything, I really got the most out of being able to just RELAX.

  10. Allison List*

    I would rather be fired at the time of day when my support system will be available. So if my spouse (or parent or best friend) also works 9-5, I’d rather come home when they’ll be home. And I’d also rather it be a Friday so I won’t have to be alone while everyone else goes to work those first few days (again, assuming my support system is working regular business hours).

    1. I'll be back*

      And I’d want exactly the opposite – I’d need time alone to process what happened before I had to talk about it to people and so I’d want at least a few hours of space.

      No way to please everyone, indeed.

      1. MrsCHX*

        I was thinking this exact response before reading yours. I was laid off from my last job on a Wednesday or Thursday, right away in the morning. Left me in a much better headspace when my husband and kids (teens at the time) got home.

  11. ragazza*

    At my company, if you suddenly have an early-morning meeting with your boss, it probably means you’re being let go.

    1. knitter*

      Yeah, at Toxic Old Job it was a meeting at the end of the day.

      At new job, when my boss scheduled our weekly check-in the last hour of the work day, I had a massive panic attack.

  12. TootsNYC*

    It’s going to suck no matter when it happens.
    And I think that people’s reaction to the time of day would be very individual–you can’t please everyone. (Not everyone can eat a sandwich.)

    I think it’s good that they even tried to pay attention to making it a less stressful; I hope that mere fact is of a bit of comfort to people getting laid off, or let go without rancor for nonperformance.

    My favorite set of layoffs where the ones where everybody knew cuts were coming, knew it was budgetary.

    They worked their way through people starting on Monday, and to everyone they said, “We’re so sorry, it’s not you, it’s the budget. We know it sucks worse for you, but it does actually suck for us too. Your last official day is Friday. We understand if you’re mad and would like to leave now, but we trust you not to trash the place on the way out the door, and we know your colleagues would appreciate a chance to say goodbye, and we’d be grateful if you’d use your last week to hand things off. Oh, and you can use this week to clean out your email inbox and your desk, and get your prop-sale finds out from under your desk. We thank you for your hard and excellent work, and maybe we will be able to work together again someday.”

    It made the hugest difference for the people leaving, and also for the staff left behind. Seeing our colleagues be treated with kindness and respect made it so much easier for those of us left behind. And it really affected the executives’ reputation with us.

    Of course, those were cost layoffs.

    It might not work as well for “being let go as unable to perform” or “firing for cause” (no-show, theft, bad behavior).

    But even w/ those layoffs I described, some people were still really upset.

    1. Mystery Bookworm*

      I agree with this. There might also be variables that vary office to office (like how crowded it is at certain times, etc.)

      The best thing a company can do is make sure that the employee is treated respectfully and not blindsided.

      I don’t mean to imply that this question doesn’t deserve thought — it’s worthwhile to consider what is best for any one office or employee.

      That said, there’s *very* a limited return on trying to “game” these things so as to avoid hurt feelings. While we should try to avoid unnecessary hurt, managers ultimately need to accept that they are not entitled to employees who are always going to be 100% understanding and magnaimous about being let go. And it’s OK to let people be upset over something like this – it is upsetting.

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        “managers ultimately need to accept that they are not entitled to employees who are always going to be 100% understanding and magnaimous about being let go.”

        So much this. At the end of the day, the person in question is losing their livelihood – you just can’t expect to find some magic answer that will make them not be upset about it. Although these questions are undoubtedly well-meant, you can’t dodge having to deal with upset, sad or angry employees that you just fired by making sure that you do it at exactly 3.27pm on a Thursday or whatever.

    2. DCGirl*

      Exactly. I was laid off last year (along with dozens of other people), and it could not have been handled worse. It was done first thing in the morning, right after I’d arrived to work, and all I could take at the time was my purse. They insisted on having the biggest, burliest member of the facilities walk everyone who was laid off to the garage and watch them get in their cars and drive away. I immediately had to go buy a phone charger since mine was in my company-issued laptop bag. It took weeks for them to “pack up” my desk and send me my stuff, and I say “pack up” in quotation marks because when the box arrived, it looked like they just taken the drawers out of the desk and dumped everything in box. I got all sorts of stuff they probably shouldn’t have sent me, like boxes of binder clips and staples that were company property. And, the one thing that was missing was a $100 gift certificate that I’d won in a contest, which really ticked me off.

      1. DCGirl*

        In other words, treating people with decency and respect will go a long way. I’m told that other employees were very upset when they saw what was happening, and the guy from facilities who was tasked with being the enforcer was quite unhappy about being put in that role.

  13. Dave*

    To me the most important thing is to just do it. The worst is when you know someone is leaving but they won’t actually tell the person they are fired for any number of reasons. It is frustrating waiting for it to actually happen while still trying to act normally but not really able because you are wasting time teaching them anything.

  14. Nicki Name*

    Having been laid off both morning and afternoon, and been around a number of other layoffs that didn’t take me out: definite preference for mornings. The worst part is waiting to find out if you’re one of the survivors or not. Even actually being told you’re being laid off is better than being in suspense.

    1. Karyn*

      Did you know layoffs were coming on a specific day, leading to your worrying if you survived or not? I’ve never actually seen a company do that! It’s an interesting concept.

      The one layoff I’ve been through, we didn’t know when, but when it happened, I wasn’t shocked at all about my demise. Two of the three attorneys I worked for had left, and I was about to take the bar exam (which didn’t end up happening anyway), so I was prepared and it was actually a relief when they finally dropped the axe. When I had my exit interview, they asked if I had any comments, and I said, “Next time you guys do this, try and be a little less obvious. Partners having constant meetings with HR and other partners while we’ve had a mass exodus of attorneys is a pretty strong signal that something’s wrong.” They were shocked that they hadn’t been as covert as they thought!

      1. RandomU...*

        Under some circumstances the company has to give public notice if a layoff is coming. So it’s not unheard of for people to know it’s coming but not know if it’s them or not.

        1. Liz*

          this was another job I had. Two major pharma mergers, but they did it the right way. i knew i was out, since i had less seniority than anyone else. And that was HUGE there. BUT, i had a couple of months notice, a very generous severence package, which included resume help, etc. and my boss told me take time whenever, even during working hours, to take advantage of that. which i did. I honestly was bored; there wasn’t enough work for all of us. So i wasn’t too upset since i kenw it wasn’t my performance, and i got a HUGE package.

      2. Nicki Name*

        In one case, the company was required to give us 60 days’ warning because the layoff was going to be so huge. We weren’t told a specific day, though, and it wound up happening more than 60 days later. In other cases, it happened against a background of knowing that there had been layoffs in other parts of the company.

        But in any case where there’s a layoff affecting many different teams/departments, word gets out that it’s Layoff Day pretty quickly. When my department was the last on the list, everyone was so stressed out that hardly any work got done that day anyway. When I was one of the first people out the door in the morning, I appreciated not having to stew in stress all day. (Plus, that workplace had turned toxic and I was in the middle of the process of convincing myself to start job-hunting again, so learning that they were paying me to leave was a nice way to start the day.)

  15. Karyn*

    When layoffs happened at OldJob, I knew I was on the block well before it happened, so my experience was probably less jarring than for others (it also helped that I had a temp job lined up within a day, though, so…). My company did it on a Friday, at the end of the day. I thought that made it easier for people who didn’t see it coming to save some face, not have to answer awkward questions from coworkers or hear sympathy, etc.

    The only complaint I had about how the layoffs were handled is that half the attorneys were gone, including partners, at a firm-sponsored party for the associates. It had food, open bar, and bowling. I thought that was just bad optics if you’re doing layoffs. Perhaps they did it so that there would be fewer people in the office, but like… have an off-site meeting, not a blowout bash with junior attorneys while support staff are being terminated.

    Although, one woman who got laid off with me walked through the office singing, “So Long, Farewell” and cracked. me. up.

    1. Elsie432*

      One of my favorites has always been “So Long, Dearie” from Funny Girl:

      Wave your little hand and whisper so long dearie
      You ain’t gonna see me anymore
      And when you discover that your life is dreary
      Don’t you come knockin’ at my door

      ‘Cause I’ll be all dolled up and singin’ that song
      That says, “You dog, I told you so”
      So wave your little hand and whisper so long dearie
      Dearie, should have said so long, so long ago

      Because you’ve treated me so rotten and rough
      I’ve had enough of feelin’ low
      So wave your little hand and whisper, so long dearie
      Dearie would have said so long, so long ago

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Well that sucks. Like hey, we’re having a big boozy bash… but not for you suckers getting shitcanned. Lovely.

  16. wafflesfriendswork*

    A little different, because I was temping and it didn’t happen at the place where I had been working, but my agency person sent me an email over the weekend to give her a call first thing Monday before I left for work, so I got dressed and everything and called her before I left. She told me they didn’t need me anymore and I was done there. So I guess at least I didn’t have to be told at the office (though having my rep call me to fire me feels cowardly–I had been there for eight months!)

    1. CatCat*

      I remember when I was let go as a temp after several months and thought it was handled well, but found out later that other employees thought it had NOT been handled well.

      It was not just my boss, but Big Boss, who talked to me about it. The reality was the cost. They had been interested in hiring me, but it would be too expensive to pay off the temp agency and they could hire someone lower-skilled directly for less… which was all completely true. I was surprised I was there as long as I was, to be honest. It was not a hard job and I was just temping to pay the bills. I helped train my replacement and left on good terms. I fully expected to get another assignment from the temp agency in short order (which I did) and just wanted a positive reference, which Big Boss agreed to provide (and did provide). I found out later after running into someone who still worked there that others had been pissssssssssssed about it and thought I had been treated poorly. I mean, I was a temp, paid accurately for my time, treated with honesty, and given a good reference. I really didn’t need anything more.

      1. wafflesfriendswork*

        Yep, that’s why I was let go from two temp placements! The funny thing about this one, though, is that my agency person told me that they were doing away with my position–I had to go back to the office a few days later to get a package I had delivered there (I was friendly with someone else in the office and emailed her) and she and the new temp both came down to bring it to me! Apparently they had gone about two days without a receptionist and panicked and gotten another temp. A real shitshow.

        My second placement ended SO differently–they gave me notice and an end date and a good reference!

    2. pope suburban*

      I really hated the way agencies handled ending assignments when I was temping. I don’t know if there’s some seriously bad business advice going to temp agency employees, but the agents always treated us like criminals or loose cannons, with no justification. I mean, we were temps, we knew the assignments had to end at some point. But they’d call half an hour after the end of the day, or half an hour before your start time, with these weird, stern admonitions not to go back, and not to bother anyone at the placement. This really annoyed me at the end of a long-term assignment I had covering someone’s maternity leave. I knew the end of the contract was near, but I hadn’t been given a date, and since it was a long-term gig, I had left some things in the office. The temp agency took serious umbrage at that and forbade me to go gather it; the person they sent got maybe two of my things and a bunch of stuff from God knows where/who. I took only what was mine, and had to go to the placement after a bizarre, passive-aggressive lecture from the agent to get my actual things. It wasn’t a dangerous placement, I had had zero conflict with anyone (both while I was there, and during my time with the agency), I never yelled or threatened anyone, I was…just a normal, run-of-the-mill temp. Got my stuff back, but the whole experience was offensive. When someone is working for a temporary placement agency, on jobs that are explicitly NOT temp-to-hire, there’s no need for this secrecy. Let people know so that they can plan.

      1. Kat in VA*

        My last temp job (which, ironically, became my full-time job five months later) was a maternity cover. She communicated when she would be back, there was a week overlap so I could get her up to speed, they threw me a going-away party on the last day, everyone was on board and knew what was happening. THAT’S how you should handle a temp gig – everyone knows it’s going to end (hence the “temporary” moniker) so doing it with the half-hour-after-hours call or whatever is just cheesy and cowardly.

        1. pope suburban*

          The weirdest part, by far, was the tone. It was very hostile and scold-y. I was temping when I was still very new to the workforce (Graduated right into the recession), so I assumed it was normal. Now, with some distance, I know it was not, and also that it’s a stupid, terrible, needlessly wasteful/stressful way to do business. I ran into that attitude with several agencies, even though I was a meek, mild recent grad who would never dream of acting out. When I did assignments with other people from my agency/other agencies, I found out that they all got treated that way too, even though none of them struck me as particularly volatile or sneaky people.

    3. My Last Name Is Anonymous*

      I got fired from a temp job by the client. I was called in to her office, and she spent ONE HOUR telling me how hard things were for her because her husband had been laid off. I think it was her attempt to bond with me over unemployment, or something — to show she felt my pain. I took the high road and chose not to point out to her that at least she still had one income in her household, which I no longer had, as a single person. She let me work to the end of the day. I called my agency, and they were very surprised I had been let go — it was news to them!

      Don’t be like that client.

  17. T Bone 91*

    One of my buddies was a manager at GNC for a long time. He waited to fire someone cuz he didn’t want to cover their shift.

    Total dickhead move. IMO if you’re going to fire someone do it first thing in the morning on a Monday. Don’t do it Friday afternoon after you’ve already gotten a full day’s work out of them just for your convenience.

  18. Blue Dog*

    Firing sucks — even when someone deserves it — and we generally try not to do it. Instead, we try to counsel them out. Usually there are many, many conversations about how certain things aren’t going right and certain things need to change. Eventually, you start saying things like, “Look, we have talked about this a lot. We have talked about how certain things need to change. We are sort of coming to the end of the road now. There is talk from above about letting you go at the end of the month. I really don’t want that to happen, but that is where we are headed.” Usually, you can work out a voluntarily resignation, severance and a release, a mutual agreement not to disparage, and a stip not to contest unemployment benefits.

    I think you have problems when people feel blind sided. If you do it right, people should never feel that way. Often they know it is not going well and they feel relieved when the other shoe actually drops.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, I think the counseling out is the best approach, unless you’re worried the employee is embezzling or is going to do physical bodily harm to someone else.

  19. hbc*

    Not that I’ve done it a lot, but I’ve settled on shortly before lunch. Gives me time to get everything in order, allows them to choose whether to go say their goodbyes or wait for the office to be quieter before heading out. I also offer the option of them packing up their stuff now or having their stuff shipped.

    I usually do it midweek and make clear that I’m paying out the week, which is separate than the severance they need to sign for. The hope is that it feels a little less like the rug is being yanked out from under them.

    But really, it’s going to be a kick in the teeth no matter how it’s delivered, so at best you’re trying not to add insult to injury.

  20. PJH*

    Hey – at least these places are doing it in person, rather than – say – text message:

    1. hbc*

      Ugh, I don’t know of anyone fired by text, but I had someone who blathered on about respecting his employees do the most disrespectful firing I’ve ever witnessed. Fergus put Wakeen on a PIP but started looking for a replacement immediately. Wakeen was actually meeting the terms of the PIP, which wasn’t actually difficult (and it wasn’t even clear whether he hadn’t been performing well before–Fergus basically just didn’t like Wakeen.) Wakeen has to call out sick a few weeks later, and Fergus decides he has to fire him that day, so Fergus calls him at home to do the deed, admitting that Wakeen’s meeting the PIP now but that Fergus doesn’t believe he can sustain it.

      Why the rush? Because Fergus had interviews scheduled with potential Wakeen replacements and he was too dim to at least plan them outside of our tiny office.

  21. Anonymous Educator*

    So, I think how this gets handled really depends on what kind of “firing” this is. I honestly haven’t seen too many hostile firings.

    In one case, there was an inappropriate teacher, and he just was gone one day. I don’t know if they let him know in the morning or in the afternoon or what. But if the teacher is inappropriate, you can’t really fret too much about what time you do the firing.

    In another case, it was a co-worker who was doing really shoddy work and was a perfectly nice person but couldn’t do the job. Her manager put her on a PIP, and at the end of the PIP nothing in her performance had improved, so she was fired. I don’t think the time of day mattered, because she kind of knew it was coming. I mean, she was still upset about it, but there was a PIP.

    When people say “fired,” are they talking about an employee they don’t trust (i.e., maybe someone who did sketchy things while there)? Or just someone who isn’t a good fit?

    I think if it’s someone you don’t trust, you revoke all her keys and password access while she’s being fired, and then escort her out of the building immediately. If it’s a more amicable departure (not a good fit), I’ve even seen cases where the employer helps the “fired” employee find a new job.

    1. Not Me*

      To be honest, even people I don’t have a reason to distrust I don’t normally allow to wander un-escorted about the office after letting them know they’ve been terminated. You do it as respectfully as you can, explain that it’s company policy and has nothing to do with them. You’d be surprised how quickly someone can change from appearing understand to needing to be removed by building security.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I guess it really depends on what the circumstances are. Again, if the employee is just not a good fit, and it’s a fairly amicable “firing,” there shouldn’t be any reason to believe the employee needs to be removed by building security. But I guess maybe it depends on the office culture and the type of industry you’re in.

        1. Kat in VA*

          A lot can depend on the industry, too. I work in cybersecurity, and I don’t have to tell you what a bad idea it would be to allow an employee who knows they’re no longer an employee (whatever the circumstances, even if they knew it was coming other than a temp assignment) to wander around a secured building with unfettered access to everything. It sucks, it makes them feel like they’re not trusted, but rules are in place for a reason. :(

          1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

            Something I like to say is a version of this: the rules in place aren’t against a specific person. But we have no way of knowing who we should guard against, so we have to apply the same measures to everyone. This also helps to prevent discrimination.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Sometimes people mix up the terms but in the US:
      Fired: is for cause. Could be you just couldn’t do or learn the job. Could be the boss just didn’t like you.
      Or Fired can mean there was serious misconduct such as fighting, theft, safety, harassment, behavior, etc.

      Being let go due to downsizing, restructuring, lack of work or company closing is called Laid Off.

      Laid off workers usually get unemployment benefits without any hassle. Fired employees sometimes do: but may not if there was serious cause and/or they quit in a huff. But usually if employee TRIED to do their job in good faith effort, but just weren’t able to, they can still get unemployment. I always say that employers shouldn’t try to be pricks and fight unemployment unless the person did something really horrible such as theft or chronic no-showing. Even if you didn’t like the person, don’t do this.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        Getting fired because the boss “just doesn’t like you” isn’t being fired for cause. For cause means misconduct (legal or ethical violations) or poor performance or something otherwise job-related.

        Example: If you’re talking about GoT at work so much that you’re not getting your work done and you’re distracting your coworkers, you can be fired for cause; if your boss fires you because they think you talk about Dany too much on Twitter on your days off, that’s not being fired for cause (that’s your boss being WRONG).

  22. Kettles*

    End of the day. Otherwise it’s humiliating for the person being fired. It’s different if you need the person gone because they’re being malicious or aggressive – but if it’s just not working out, best to give them as much dignity as possible.

    1. goducks*

      Sometimes end of day means that overnight the gossip tree gets going, and the next day is a mess of trying to fix that mess.

      Sometimes mid-day is the best. People are coming and going and not really paying attention to what’s happening to others, but the afternoon can be spent answering questions on what happens next for the remaining staff, and allaying fears.

      1. Kettles*

        Uh – I wasn’t talking about what’s best for the employer. Or the other staff. Their convenience and feelings are pretty immaterial compared to the person who now has to face unemployment.

        1. goducks*

          It doesn’t do anybody any good, including the terminated person, if the remaining staff are allowed to create their own narrative. Part of ensuring the dignity of the fired person is to nip unfavorable rumors in the bud, and to do what you can to keep the remaining staff from deluging the person with questions via text, email or social media.

    2. London Calling*

      Only time I’ve been laid off we were told about 4pm and everyone involved promptly left all their work lying on their desks (and our office had a very strict clean desk policy) and decamped to the pub for a massive bonding session all evening.

      1. Kettles*

        I’m lucky in that I’ve never been fired but the time I faced redundancy, I was extremely happy to use my holiday and wrap it up in a couple of days.

  23. Moray*

    I would say: not first thing in the morning but sometime before lunch, with the understanding that they can leave right away or take some time to pack up/say goodbye and will be paid through the end of the day regardless.

    1. Polaris*

      I once quit a temp job in the middle of the day. My manager did something so egregiously offensive that as soon as it was time for my lunch break, I walked myself down to the temp agency, explained what had happened, and told them I wouldn’t be going back. It was some years ago, but I believe I was paid for the full day.

  24. C*

    Inc’s terrible headlines continue: “If You’re Firing Someone, This Is The Best Time of Day To Do It
    The answer might not be what you think.”

    I get that headline writers probably have 5 seconds to create one, but nowhere in the post does it actually say when the best time of day is to fire someone. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    At any rate, I think if I were being fired end of the day would be best, but that’s just me.

    1. Alianora*

      Right? They could have just stuck with Alison’s title: “Is there a best time of day to fire someone?” but instead they went clickbaity and inaccurate.

    2. BRR*

      Yeah I get why this headline was written, but it’s the exact opposite of the article’s point. At this point I feel like I have a decent amount of experience leaving involuntarily and I can’t say I have a preference myself let alone for others.

    3. Neosmom*

      One day I was asked to stay late on a Wednesday to review a contract for our our company president (nothing unusual). I made the arrangements. She was antsy at 5:30 p.m. when I was just about finished. I completed the work 5 minutes later, gave the contract to her, and was escorted into a conference room where she and the HR director terminated my employment. The president gave me a very nice reference letter she had signed and then left the room so the HR manager could finish the meeting.

      When I got home, my spouse said, “You’re late! How about you buy me dinner?” I responded, “I just got fired. Howe about you buy ME dinner?”

  25. (Former) HR Expat*

    I try to avoid Fridays if at all possible, because it can give people the chance to stew over things and not be able to take any action with UI, benefits, lawyers (if there’s a severance agreement), etc. While UI has gotten better with online portals, there are other things that may need to happen in person during normal business hours. I tend to terminate on Wednesday or Thursday, if possible.

    But I will make the effective date for the end of the week so they get a full week’s pay. And do my best to treat them with dignity and respect. That goes a long way.

  26. Anonymous Educator*

    This whole discussion makes me kind of grateful for all the years I’ve worked in schools, where there’s an academic schedule and a lot of folks leaving (either on their own, laid off, counseled out, “fired”), even a lot of non-teachers, have a natural break at which it makes sense to leave. Often “firing” (unless you did some egregious offense mid-year) is simply a matter of not renewing the employee’s contract.

    1. NoNameForThisOne*

      We had two teachers non-renewed for next school year, and it’s been brutal for them. They found out months ago but had to continue teaching and being professional. One was teaching when admin brought in his replacement so she could check out the room she’d be in next year. He was livid.

      I understand the need to hire and get new contracts signed, but I would hate to be contractually obliged to work in a place where I knew I wasn’t being welcomed back, unless it was for budget cuts. It’s a sucky situation.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Is the teacher being non-renewed for a good reason? I don’t really see how you can be livid, if you’re just not good, and they’re not renewing you for next year. But if it’s some weird political thing where they’re “firing” you (not renewing you) because of something that is completely unrelated to your teaching ability/curriculum, then I’d be more livid about the being not renewed and not livid at all about allowing a replacement to check out the room.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Sounds like part of the anger is they brought a stranger in *DURING CLASS* — think of the disruption of a scheduled observer and multiply it because the kids will want to know who it is.
          Tacky in the extreme not to wait until a lunchbreak.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            I don’t know what happened in that particular situation. If NoNameForThisOne says the teacher was rightfully livid, I’m going to assume there were good reasons to be livid. But visitors can come to the room during class without it being some ridiculous situation. And just because the kids know the teacher is leaving doesn’t mean the kids have to know the teacher was fired.

        2. college instructor*

          I’m not super-familiar with K-12 norms, but it’s defimitrly tacky in higher ed. In higher ed, non-tenured instructors sometimes get non-renewed for reasons that have nothing to do with job performance (budgetary reasons, change in curricular needs, etc.). The college where I work now will generally let those faculty serve out the rest of their contract in peace and not talk about their replacements in front of them. My last job wasn’t quite so diplomatic and it definitely led to more bridge-burning on the way out,

      2. Zephy*

        > One was teaching when admin brought in his replacement so she could check out the room she’d be in next year. He was livid.

        That’s tacky and rude. In front of the kids, and everything? The room will still be there at 4:00, or on Saturday morning, or some other time when there isn’t a whole lesson to interrupt.

  27. Me*

    About 10 years before I started my job at my current company they were doing layoffs because of financial problems. I heard from people who were there at the time that one day HR made an announcement that everyone needed to be at work on this certain day no matter what. Then on that day everyone received a meeting invite on their calendar where they would have to go to a conference room with their manager and someone from HR who would let them know if they still had a job or not. Thankfully I’ve never experienced a layoff and don’t know if there’s a best way to do it but that sounds like it would be the worst day ever

    1. CDM*

      Big Bank did something similar for layoffs of redundant positions after a merger. Everyone had a time when they were supposed to phone HR and find out if they still had a job or were being laid off. When my mother called, they didn’t know if she was being laid off or not. She wasn’t on their list.

    2. Mr. Shark*

      We basically had the same thing happen. We were told we should be at work a certain day, because BigWigs were going to be there. We had an inkling of what would happen already, though.
      In the meeting, the announcement came that they were shutting down the office, and that we would be either offered a relocation package to work in another office, or we would be laid off at the end of the following month. Everyone had meetings with their specific bosses and HR throughout the day, so you would just wait your turn and they would tell you whether you had a job after the following month, or whether they wanted you to move to a different location.
      It was no fun when your good friend/co-worker would come out of his appointment saying he was laid off, and you’d come out of yours and say that you were offered relocation. Ugh!

  28. mark132*

    Maybe do it like in the Dilbert cartoon. Some guy shoots you in the back with a tranquilizer dart and you wake up in the unemployment line.

  29. Narise*

    Our company has the employee come to HR and the manager and HR director presents the termination. While the meeting is being held another HR rep packs up the employees personal belongings and has it waiting for them when they are done. They are not allowed to go back to their work station/area.

    FYI it is also recommended to avoid terminating employees in a manager’s office. If its in a conference room or neutral site its easier for manager to leave if it becomes confrontational.

    1. DCGirl*

      At a previous (Big Five accounting), a problem employee was called into the partners office along with his manager and HR to be terminated. At the end, they all got up to walk him to his desk to pack up. He feigned having forgotten something in this partner’s office, stepped back inside, then locked and barricaded the door. We then heard banging and crashing; it turned out he’d picked up a chair and was trying to break the glass in the windows. The police were called and eventually got him out. It was quite a day.

    2. 653-CXK*

      That’s what happened to me when I was canned last year from ExCompany (on a Tuesday morning around 10 o’clock – I was able to file for UI online that afternoon); I didn’t go to HR, but HR came to a small conference room and the manager (not my supervisor) gave the news I was terminated. Fortunately, I was a telecommuter, so all I had to do was get my bag (sans laptop) and left fairly quickly. No drama, no mess, and I knew it was coming.

      1. 653-CXK*

        HR also came with my final paycheck with my unused vacation pay, an exit packet (with COBRA, which I immediately turned down and went to the health insurance exchange and paid 50% less per month – UI helped out a lot in this case), and then collected my badge. My supervisor let me go back to my desk and grab my bag, and then I left.

  30. Director of HR*

    We generally term employees at the end of the day/end of their shift because so many of them get a ride to and from work or use public transportation and I’d hate to put anyone in a situation where they were fired and then had to wait around for hours for someone to pick them up.

  31. Angelinha*

    Doesn’t a fake meeting seem a little weird? I’ve seen that done for birthday parties, but not to awkwardly mill around while your coworker gets fired…

    1. BRR*

      I was in a fake meeting when a coworker was fired and I think it was kind so they could pack up in peace. This coworker didn’t get along with anybody so there wasn’t a need for anybody to say goodbye.

    2. Mr. Shark*

      We had a meeting while 5 people were laid off. The brutal thing was that it was right before Christmas, so they were getting screwed out of holiday pay, and probably vacation they had planned to take off. The company was pretty generous so maybe they paid them extra severance. Mostly I think that they were cleaning up the books to prepare for the following year.

  32. Art3mis*

    The one time I got fired it was towards the end of the day. Right after a bunch of us worked on a big project. I kind of felt like that waited until everything was done so that they could have extra hands helping out. But if I’m so bad at my job, why do you really want to keep me around, don’t you think I could mess that up too? I don’t know if there was good way to handle that though.

    1. AJK*

      I used to work at an office that had a big rush at the end of every month, and I usually had to stay late to help out.
      When I was let go, I was let go on the first day of the month, which made me think they did it so they could get the end of the month work out of me and then start training someone new immediately after. And they did have my replacement all ready to go, he was there the very next day.

  33. Rutty*

    Alison, did you approve the article’s Title & Byline? It comes of as super click-baity and your thoughtful response didn’t reflect the description.

  34. Andrew*

    I would have preferred friday as I wouldn’t have needed to waste my time coming on a Monday, eat my lunch there and waste gas to get to work. I should have saw the signs with the weirdness the two ppl in my department were showing me the friday before and the morning of being laid off.

    The whole thing pisses me off still especially with the manager bad mouthing my character years later for a government background check. Good thing it didn’t affect my eligibility bc I would have been pissed.

  35. Mr M*

    True story. This happened in my early 20’s. I came to work on Monday morning only to find a stranger doing my job. I hung around for about an hour before my manager came in & looked REALLY surprised to see me before gathering his composure and saying that he had fired me on Friday, “but forgot to tell me.” This was in front of a group of co-workers. I was so humiliated, I just turned and walked out. I never did learn why I was fired…

    1. RandomU...*

      That’s terrible! I can’t imagine that was a great place to work to begin with.

      1. Mr M*

        Yeah, I remember he actually said it twice, I guess to make sure the other employees heard.

    2. June First*

      One of my old radio station bosses had a similar story: the station had a new owner and they had a meet-and-greet with staff. They introduced the new morning team. He then learned he was part of the “former” morning team.

  36. Wing Leader*

    My manager had to let someone go a few months back, and she did so by telling the woman a little before she left for lunch. That way, she could leave on her lunch break without fielding a bunch of questions about where she was going.

  37. RandomU...*

    Some of the coldest (but understandable) firings have been people who ran offices and reported to a remote manager.

    Basically the manager will fly in and ask the employee to pick them up at the airport. The firing will happen immediately away from the office and the remote manager will show up at the office without the fired employee.

    This makes sense for a couple of reasons. This is a sensitive data company, so access is immediately terminated. It’s a way for the fired employee to save face – They don’t have to get fired in front of all of their employees. And it’s a way for the remote manager to be able to come in and control information to the employees of the fired employee.

    So yeah, everyone sort of wonders if they get a request to pick up their boss from the airport.

    1. goducks*

      Wait, what? The terminated employee has to drive their former manager to the office? They get fired in their car? Please elaborate!

      1. Grace*

        I mean, they do say that driving is the best time to have difficult conversations, because at least one person can look at the road and you don’t need eye contact…

        But I don’t know if that applies when the difficult conversation is “I just made you spend money to come pick me up, but you’re still fired, now drive me to the office you no longer work at.” Maybe don’t spring that on someone driving a three-tonne chunk of metal hurtling along at 70mph.

        1. Deejay*

          “You’re terminated, effective immediately”
          Car screeches to a halt.
          “Then I guess you’ve got a long walk ahead of you”

      2. RandomU...*

        No, I’m not sure when or where the actual firing conversation happens, but the employee does not return to the office. No they don’t have to drive their (former) boss after the firing.

        I’m assuming that it happens somewhere that the boss can get an Uber/cab/car service/rental back to the office as they will be there for a few days at least telling the team, figuring out coverage, and contacting the client.

        And to answer the question. I’m sure they reimburse for mileage.

        It’s an odd thing to see or have described.

  38. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    I’ve been laid off twice. The first time, our whole division was being sold, so they brought us all into a group meeting to tell us, and the lay off wasn’t happening for a few months.

    The second time was done individually, and to be honest I couldn’t tell you what day of the week or time of day it was when it happened. I was allowed to go to my desk, pick up my essentials and what I could carry on public transportation (they mailed the rest of my stuff to me), and was escorted out of the building. I don’t remember who saw me, and I said nothing to anyone because it was all a blur. It sucked, and no matter what time of the day or day of the week it’s done, it will not be any less sucky.

  39. NW Mossy*

    The one time (so far) that I’ve had to fire someone, I did it towards the end of the workday mid-week. The scheduling wasn’t entirely my choice, because our protocol for firing involves lining up the schedules of a bunch of people – the employee, the manager, another manager and/or HR (to witness and also walk the employee back to their desk to claim any can’t-leave-without-it belongings like their bag or cell phone), and an IT rep to disable the employee’s keycard and system access. I also had the added layer of the employee being remote to me, so I had to have an on-site manager help with the physical logistics. The meeting didn’t go super-well, but I don’t think changing the day or time would have helped much with the specific reasons why it didn’t.

    The one thing I don’t love about the way we do it is how it functions when the person works in an office where there’s also a keypad system (for things like restroom access) in addition to keycards. The code gets changed immediately after a termination meeting and an email goes out to everyone in that site, so any time the code changes, everyone immediately looks around to see who’s suddenly missing.

  40. Not Me*

    I always take into account public transportation schedules if that’s how the person commutes (ie, if I have the meeting with them at 9 am are there no trains they can take home until 3?).

    I prefer to terminate people earlier in the week so they have the opportunity to access people in our benefits department or payroll and not have to wait thru the weekend.

  41. Lujessmin*

    At my previous workplace, those being laid off were emailed and told to report to a meeting space at 3. The remaining employees were then gathered together by their managers, told what was going on, then asked them to leave so that laid off employees could pack up their desks without an audience.

    When I was laid off, I came back to a full office because everyone wanted to say goodbye. It was nice that they liked me enough to want to say goodbye, but that meant I had to hold the tears back because I wasn’t going to let them see me cry.

    1. LuJessMin*

      I forgot to add that layoffs were always on the Monday following Friday’s payday.

  42. MOAS*

    We just had a few firings/layoffs this month.

    One was let go right after their lunch break on a major deadline day. They were that bad.

    4 were let go on a Thursday in the late morning/afternoon.

    When I was seasonal, I was let go in the middle of the day but I was allowed to stay til end of the day.

    Not the same but when I was a temp at another company, I was let go of the assignment via voicemail from the temp agency. against my better judgment I texted the person I was working for and it got cringeworthy.

  43. Veryanon*

    I’ve unfortunately had to fire my share of people throughout my career. It never gets easy. The kindest way I’ve come up with is to meet privately with the employee (or, if the employee is on leave pending the outcome of an investigation, set up something on the phone). I always have a third party present (usually the employee’s manager). I book a conference room in the lobby of our building, which is away from the work areas. We ask someone from security to go back to the person’s desk to get whatever they need immediately, so they’re not doing the Walk of Shame in front of their colleagues. Then we ask our security to pack up the rest of the person’s belongings after everyone leaves for the day, and ship it back to them. If the person is parked far away from the front lobby, I’ll have security drive them to their car. If the person took public transportation, we’ll arrange for an Uber so they get home safely. I always wish the person well. In performance cases, we pay two weeks’ salary in lieu of notice, and we pay out any earned and unused PTO. The important thing is to treat the person with as much dignity and kindness as possible, and then quickly get them offsite so they can go home to process the information (and minimize the security risk). No, it’s not ideal, but firing someone is never the ideal outcome.

  44. Urdnot Bakara*

    At my last place of employment, they had a habit of firing people/laying them off (worked the same way because they gave no advance notice) right before our weekly all-staff meeting. It was a small office (~25 total employees, 1/3 of whom were remote), and I remember a particularly bad day when a good work friend of mine was laid off in this way, and as I was helping her pack up her office you could hear the CEO announcing her departure in the conference room just around the corner. It was awful.

    When I was laid off a year later, I was sharing an office with another employee, and our manager discretely asked him to make a Starbucks run. As soon as he was out of there, my manager and the CEO came in and broke the news to me. I was completely blindsided, and I cried all through the ~30 minutes they gave me to wrap stuff up. And then I ran into my coworker, who was returning from Starbucks, on the way to my car. He had no idea that’s why they’d asked him to go.

    To top it all off, they told me I could have 30 days (I think?) to review and sign my severance agreement, but a few days later the accountant called me and told me if I didn’t sign and return it by the end of the week, I wouldn’t get paid for my first week of severance. I understand why, but it certainly felt like being kicked when I was down.

    Anyway, if you have to let people go, don’t do it this way.

  45. workerbee2*

    At my husband’s previous job, a guy found out he’d been laid off because he stepped into the stairwell to take a brief personal call and he couldn’t get back into the office. His keycard was deactivated after he entered the building but before he was notified that he was laid off.

    They all knew something was going on because the company scheduled a big, mandatory, come-in-even-if-you’re-supposed-to-be-working-form-home meeting. The remaining staff were ushered into a meeting with higher-ups explaining what was going on and fielding Q&A until the laid-off employees packed up and were escorted from the building.

    Another consideration to timing of firings/layoffs is the impact to the remaining employees. I think part of the reason Friday afternoon is so popular is that firings/layoffs completely extinguish motivation and productivity in a team. In a lot of cases, it’s all anyone talks about for the rest of the day. In the case of my husband’s previous employer, they eventually let everyone go home early because they could tell that no one was getting anything done.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I worked at a company that closed our whole location and nearly everyone but 3 salespeople got laid off. They did this by having the new VP visit and calling a Town Hall to tell us.

      To this day, I cringe every time I hear there is to be a Town Hall meeting we’re all supposed to attend. I NEVER equate them with good news.

    2. CrazyLikeAFox*

      My supervisor was let go on a Friday. I wasn’t in the office and it wasn’t (to me) expected. Grandboss told the other person in my dept she’d fill me in on Monday. Coworker told Grandboss that they (coworker) would DEFINITELY be in contact with me over the weekend, so if they want to break the news they better tell me the same day. Ha!

    3. Mr. Shark*

      Yes, anytime there are multiple layoffs, work comes to a grinding halt. Everyone is concerned about who is going to be laid off, whether it will be them, who was next in the layoffs, and what that means to the future of the company. It’s not a productive environment at all.

  46. Sneaky Ninja for this one*

    We don’t do Fridays, unless it’s absolutely necessary – gross misconduct or something of that nature. If the person being let go decides they have additional questions – payroll, insurance, whatever, they more than likely won’t get an answer over the weekend. By not doing it on Friday, they have at least one business day to ask questions before the weekend rolls up.

  47. Mr M*

    At the company I’m currently working for, I was told the last time they had mass lay-offs about 3 years ago, they laid-off people in a meeting, who had to go clear out their desks in front of their still-employed co-workers.

  48. define "fired"*

    It’s unclear to me whether what happened was technically “firing” since I was classified as an independent contractor (yay for corporate tax fraud!) but I got a call on a Wednesday at 8 am my time, 4 am the caller’s time letting me know it “wasn’t working out” then the caller laughed and said “better to get it over with before you go into the office!”

  49. Chocoholic*

    I once had to tell someone not to come back to work via voicemail. This person had tons of attendance issues and we made multiple attempts to reach her and at least talk in person over the phone, but finally just had to leave a message and tell her we would mail her check. She was a dietary services person so would not have had any personal items at work. Not the best situation, but we did the best we could in that moment.

    1. Veryanon*

      Yes, I’ve had several occasions where an employee just goes MIA and all attempts to reach them are not successful. I usually send them a letter to confirm our attempts to contact them and when their employment actually ended.

  50. staceyizme*

    I don’t know that the time of day or day of the week matters as much as the lead up to the firing. Absent gross negligence, dereliction of basic job duties or truly illegal/ offensive activities, the employee being terminated has hopefully been advised of issues, counseled or coached on resolution and been granted some margin to recover. If those steps have been followed, being fired should come as no surprise and the details matter somewhat less.

  51. DCGirl*

    And by all means make sure you give the person who is laid off/terminated correct information that they need.

    At my last job, when I was laid off, my termination letter gave an 800 number at the Phoenix office for any questions about COBRA benefits. I didn’t get anything in the mail about COBRA, so I called that number and it just rang and rang and rang without ever going to voice mail. Pressing zero didn’t get to an operator. I had major dental surgery coming up and need to make sure my dental coverage was in place. I finally messaged the dental carrier to see if I could arrange COBRA directly with them. I couldn’t, but they did give me the name of the person I needed to speak to and her direct phone number. I left a polite but direct message about how the company was now past the deadline to send me COBRA information. Long story short, but they’d outsourced COBRA administration and had not included my information in the file they’d sent to the outsourcing company. She took care of it that day, but I had the privilege of paying the outsourcing company $20 extra for each payment I needed to make because I was paying over the phone instead of online.

    The Virginia office giving everyone a phone number that wasn’t even attended was just the frosting on the cake of suck for how the layoffs were handled.

  52. GillysGotIt*

    Obviously based on the comments here, you can and should handle it however you want to. You’ll never be doing the right thing in everyone’s eyes so don’t overthink the how of the firing/layoff. The person is losing their job regardless so there’s no reason to try to work out the perfect system. It doesn’t exist.

  53. vito*

    I had two times I had to drive to work to be let go, One was a Layoff and One was fired.
    The layoff was because the job was moving to Atlanta and the only person they were willing to move was my Boss (who was ironically ARRESTED for embezzlement and spent time in jail). it was a 45minute drive to work one-way.

    For the firing, they had suspended me the day prior day then set up a meet for 19:00 at work (I worked 22:00 – 08:30 ) so normally I would be asleep. After the firing I went to say goodbye to one of the managers and they called security and had me removed

  54. ejay*

    If you lay-off an individual (not a team of people), I would just say to take note of their transportation status (and where your office is located), when chosing a time of day to do it.

    If they have their own transportation or take a train/subway, I think any time of the day is fair game. And if you’re in a walkable a city enviroment (with other means of transportation), any time is also okay.

    But you don’t want to let go of someone in the morning, who you know gets dropped off everyday by their spouse at your remote suburban office park, and can’t get a ride until the end of the day. Either wait until the end of the day to do it or have a cab/uber waiting for them.

  55. Light37*

    I was in an office staffed by contractors. We came in Monday morning and my manager told us that two people were going to be laid off, but he didn’t know who. (They didn’t tell him about this till he arrived at work that morning.) We were all sent out of the office and told to come back at staggered times. I came back just as they were walking the two women who’d been laid off out. It was pretty uncomfortable. What made it worse was this was 9:30 AM, and both of them commuted a long way, one by carpool, so they had that trip in for nothing. I was on my way out anyway (moving to another state) and this left a bad taste in my mouth. I understood why they didn’t lay me off instead, since I was senior staff and it was last in first out, but it didn’t really go over well.

  56. MissDisplaced*

    I think Friday afternoons are the best time, towards the end of the day and also preferably the end of a pay period which makes it easier for accounting. And for goodness sakes PAY them for the entire day! I say Friday because it gives them time to process things over the weekend, speak to their family, etc. And I am in favor of granting them unemployment benefits and not trying to weasel out of that or deny them this. How does it harm you to be decent? The only reason not to do this would be for a very serious gross misconduct.

    But honestly, unless this is a layoff due to downsizing, the person being fired should have had a PIP or other warnings they weren’t working out.

  57. auburn*

    In addition to treating people with respect and giving a decent severance which should both be a given, if you cut off health insurance at the end of the month, don’t fire them right before the end of the month if you can avoid it! Cobra is crazy expensive so leaving people a couple of days to figure out health insurance sucks. If you have to fire someone late in the month, extend their insurance another month to give them a cushion.

    We give 3 months severance and 3 months of health insurance coverage standard. The only exception being someone who has been here less than 3 months, or someone fired for cause which are both super rare.

    1. Yep, that sounds about right*

      I thought with COBRA, you had quite some time to elect to take it like a few/couple of months? So, if you find a new job in a month and a half, and you didn’t have any need for the health insurance during the uncovered time, you didn’t have to elect to take the COBRA and shell out the money. On the other hand, if it turns out that 6 weeks into your job search you have an issue that requires health insurance coverage, you can elect to be covered after the fact as long as you pay all of the premiums you were missing since you were let go.

      This is my recollection from some years back, working for a small firm. Things may have (likely?!?) changed since then. Maybe someone who has more expertise can chime in?

      1. Lurker*

        I think you have 60 (or 61?) days from the last day of coverage, or the date you receive the COBRA notice, whichever is later.

      2. Beaded Librarian*

        If I remember correctly it’s 59 days and you can basically retroactively activate it by paying the premiums. It’s been a while but I looked in detail to see if I could afford to float my coverage between my old job and when it took effect for my new job.

    2. Anonanon*

      Great point. I had to terminate an employee and HR actually had me wait until the next week as it was the end of a calendar month. I thought it was kind of my company to consider the added impact to employee benefits.

  58. notMichelle*

    I got laid off from OldJob and I’m actually really glad that they did it first thing in the morning on a Friday. I would regularly get to work very early (just the trains/needing a seat etc) so I was out before most of my co-workers even got in which I was grateful for. I had a good relationship w/everyone there, just did not feel like dealing with saying goodbye. The hardest part though was the time of year. They did it right in the middle of December (just in time for the holidays) and it was the day before my birthday (we had made a big deal the year before about setting up a calendar so we knew when everyone’s birthday was so that we could do something nice for them). I was able to get a better paying and less stressful job about a month afterwards, but I am still pretty bitter about it, mainly because it put a huge damper on my birthday. It was also pay day, but they set me up to get paid for the next 2 weeks and then get 3 weeks severance on top of it.

  59. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Reading these stories is giving me the chills.

    I’ve usually only laid people off or fired them at the end of the work-day because sending someone home is so callous, unless they’re salaried and are going to be paid anyways. [Exception would be for someone who seriously just kept disappearing during the day and my boss made me fire him that very moment he saw him reappear but what do you expect when you just go hide out somewhere on a production line, sigh. I’m not going to give you any favors when you are getting paid to hide behind the stacks, man].

    Treat people like they’re human, with lives and even if they were horrible employees, they’re still people who deserve respect. Yikes at the cold blooded methods some businesses have come up with!

  60. Aphrodite*

    I once worked at family-owned insurance company. Its original office was in Seattle but its claims department was in southern California. They had a nurse on staff who was the person who reviewed claims that required individual judgement (new surgeries, etc.).

    I’d been there for a couple of years when on one Friday morning I was called in by the nurse (who had been sent down and living in an extended-stay motel for a while). She took immense joy in firing me with all the blunt words she could find and then told me I could leave then or stay until the end of the day. I was sooooo humiliated I decided to stay. But I did talk quietly with a friend until she came out from the back, saw me talking and LOUDLY told me that I needed to leave right then.

    I left with all dignity intact though highly embarrassed that everyone now knew. They gave me my last paycheck so I went immediately to the bank to deposit it, then over to the unemployment department and filed. I was home by 3:00 pm but spent most of the night crying. Then on Monday I ran into someone else who worked there. She had been fired that day too but they waited until the end of the day to let her know (“Could I see you in my office?”).

    About six weeks later, I was astounded to find out from someone who still worked there that the nurse had just been fired in exactly the same manner she did to me. The source had good reason to know that apparently the nurse had been having a long-time affair with the male half of the couple, neither of whom were particularly nice people. I didn’t feel sorry for her. In fact, karma.

    Almost two years later, the L.A. Times had an article that this company was out of business, having been shut down by the California State Attorney General’s office for fraudulent activities. I actually rejoiced.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Good riddance! What a bunch of evil bees, I’m so glad that everything fell apart after how they acted, so gross gross gross.

  61. Name Required*

    Here’s what not to do when laying someone off: wait until they’re driving to work then ask for them to call you on their way in. Tell them that their position has been eliminated. Then call them back and ask them to come in midday after their departure was announced to the entire company, so that they can tie up loose ends with their incredibly confused immediate colleagues, all of whom were wondering how they would continue to function without you, since a large part of your job was managing everyone’s workflow.

    I’m only a little salty about it still.

  62. rockett*

    Here’s not the best time of day: I’m an adjunct instructor, at an institution where we have been given every expectation this entire year that we would all definitely be needed for the fall. My department chair chose, two weeks ago, to find me in the hallway on the way to teaching a class to tell me I wouldn’t be needed back in the fall “because we need fewer teachers now”. So I made it about 5 minutes into that class before breaking down sobbing, and then he had the audacity to send me a harsh email after I ended up cancelling my classes for the rest of the day because of that.

    Oh, and also the “need fewer teachers” was a lie as they’re literally hiring on more fall teachers, something that’s easily verifiable by looking up the publicly available fall course schedule. Also I’m the only member of a specific protected class in my entire department. So I hope he didn’t have too many plans over the summer cause my lawyer & I are gonna be busy busy.

  63. De Minimis*

    I’ve mentioned this before, but I was fired right before lunch and I thought it was pretty decent of them. It minimized embarrassment and made it look like I was just going to lunch.

    Sure, it would have been better to have just been told not to come in that morning, but it wouldn’t have been possible at that job due to having to turn in a laptop, security badge, etc.

  64. anony-Nora*

    People tend to be let go at my toxic workplace Friday afternoons at the end of a pay period, which meant that for a couple months a few years ago when we knew we were losing our biggest client we all spent Fridays on absolute eggshells. Not a great situation for people with anxiety… and that time it happened on a Wednesday afternoon instead, because the big boss was going on vacation and wanted it done before he left.

    Another time, half the office knew someone was being let go on a particular day but the employee herself had no idea. That seemed particularly cruel: why should I, a lowly office worker at the same level as this lady, know she’s about to be fired when she herself didn’t know? Incredibly awkward, and very unprofessional of our bosses to let word get out like that.

  65. Name*

    Coworker A was fired by my manager, who initially tried to get Coworker B (from an entirely different department) to fire her because they were work friends and “it would be easier coming from her.” This was on a Friday morning. Coworker B refused, her supervisor was horrified when she was told, and my coworker found out in the most confusing way ever. Both Coworker A and B were completely traumatized and sent home early.
    We were called into a meeting after, where they kept repeating that they wanted to be open and honest about her being fired, but not actually telling us why, only that they treated her with dignity and respect, which was total crap. When we asked for specifics, they continued to swerve and said they wanted her to be able to keep her dignity. I found out months later and it ruined my opinion of that manager. The only person whose dignity they were trying to preserve was my supervisor’s. I hope she’s in a better place now, it was a toxic work environment.

  66. Kitty*

    I witnessed a coworker get fired first thing in the day and it was awful. They were expected to stay the rest of the day, but of course decided to leave right then because why would you stay. Start of the day is much crueller. Ideal would be last thing on a Friday.

  67. Brilliant Mistake*

    I was very near the end of my 3 month probation after a headhunter had placed me. I was unhappy and had been calling her every week or two to tell her it wasn’t a good fit, but she kept encouraging me to stick it out, that I hadn’t given the admin role enough time.

    I don’t remember the timing of being let go, it was sometime in the middle of the day. The boss was very nice about it, and I got a couple of weeks severance IIRC. Still, even though I wasn’t happy there, I was upset at being let go.

    I was packing up what little I had at my desk, a little tearily, when one of the salesmen came up to me and asked me to type something up. I told him, You don’t understand, I’ve been let go.” He asked me if that meant I wouldn’t be typing up his thing for him, and I said Yes, that’s what that means. Looking back, I guess I could have done it — it wasn’t complicated or long — but I also don’t think I could have done it while trying not to cry.

    Later, it occurred to me that the headhunter had wanted me to reach the 3 month mark so she would get paid her fee, and my boss was apparently well aware of the timing, as well, as he let me go right before the three months were up.

  68. Anonymosity*

    I’ve been both laid off and fired, and I think Thursday is a good day. It gives you a business day to contact unemployment but is close enough to the weekend that you have time to process. As to time, closer to the end of day seems better. It was right after lunch for me, both times. At the layoff, another coworker got laid off right before me so everyone knew what was happening.

    At the firing, they said they would send my things on, but I insisted on packing up (quietly, so as not to disturb anyone else). I knew termination was a possibility, and I had begun looking anyway, so I’d been slowly removing things from my cube. If anyone knew what was going on, they stayed discreetly out of the way. The manager helped me carry my things down to my car. I thanked him and said I was sorry it had worked out the way it did.

    No matter what, firing someone will be awkward and uncomfortable. There’s just nothing you can do to make it less so, but I’m with Alison that no matter how badly the person has screwed up, it costs you nothing to treat them with dignity.

  69. Meißner Porcellain Teapot*

    Honestly, this might be me as a European having somewhat different experiences and understandings of firings, but here’s what I, as an employee, would appreciate:

    1) Unless it’s a firing for gross ethical misconduct or legal/security breaches, in which case I totally understand walking someone out the door right then and there, I’d appreciate an early warning. That could be “Here’s your PIP and if you haven’t met its goals, we’ll have to let you go on date xx/yy” or “unfortunately, we will have to lay off Z amount of workers on date xx/yy and you will be one of them”. Either way, it would give people time to sort out their stuff (get documentation ready for filing for unemployment, asking about references, creating handover documentation, dusting off their CV, etc.)

    2) If possible (again, unless it’s a “needs to be walked out the door right now” situation), do it on a Friday afternoon. That way, they’ll have the weekend to be angry/sad/frustrated and can start over fresh on Monday.

    3) Whatever you do, please don’t fire someone early in the morning. Many people have long commutes. There are few work situations that I could think off that would piss me off more than to drag myself out of bed early in the morning, put up with a commute to work and then be told I have to go two hours later.

    4) The idea of pulling everyone else into a meeting is great if you expect a commotion (e.g. if you fear the employee you’re firing is going to cause a scene and disrupt over employees), but if you don’t, I’d say don’t do that. Give this worker a chance to say goodbye to their colleagues before they leave (and vice versa). If you think that doing so would encourage others to leave before getting fired, then you very likely have bigger problems in your office than just one fireable employee (i.e. toxic management or toxic cliques).

    5) However you go about it, please make sure you provide the employee with all the tools needed to leave with their dignity as intact as possible:
    – Provide them with a signed document that clearly states when you’re firing them / laying them off and why. This will make it easier to file for unemployement.
    – Be very clear to them about what kind of reference they can expect (ranging from “please do not use anyone from this office as a reference, because you would be hurting your chances” to “you were stellar and I’m so sorry we have to lay you off–we’ll gladly sing your praises to whomever you sign up with next”).
    – Be very clear to them about when you will send them their final paycheck and tax docs, if applicable.
    – Give them ample time to pack up their stuff, preferably in a container that does not scream “just got fired!” For example, one job a friend of mine worked at used to hand out perfectly ordinary looking canvas bags with a re-inforced bottom, like the kind you get at the supermarket, to leaving employees to pack up their stuff. If you cannot give them time to pack up, state very clearly whether they’ll have to come and collect it later or whether you’ll sent it to them. Be very clear about how long you will hold on to the employee’s things.
    – For reason of the last two points above, ask them to verify if their contact info and address is up to date, so if you need to send them any documentation (paycheck, tax docs, business mail) or things that they did not have the opportunity to pack up, you can do it without a fuss.
    – If your employee owned/loaned any kind of company property (laptop, phone, keycard, keys), assist them in getting this stuff handed back to relevant departments and any deposits repaid. Provide them with a signed document stating that they have returned any and all company-owned/loaned property.

  70. Sovereign HR*

    I was thirty-one seconds to one minute late to opening a national call center (I don’t remember if it was 0630:31 or 0631). As a supervisor you just couldn’t be late. It was understood.

    A same level supervisor told me she was not written up for being late because she was new to the position. I told my boss who said she wasn’t late. When I went back to confirm with my coworker she said she had no idea what I was talking about.

    So I pulled up the time cards and handed them to my boss.

    Two days later we implemented a new attendance policy for our employees. I was asked for my input and this and that.

    Immediately after the meeting I was called in by my boss to receive the writeup for being late. Along with it came a SECOND writeup for accessing a coworker’s file (that I had access to, but not permission [I guess. I was 22 at the time]). When I vehemently argued that they asked for proof and I gave it to them, a THIRD writeup was given to me for insubordination, thereby terminating my employment.

    I don’t think much about that job anymore.

  71. CDNRx*

    I was laid off, after 20 years with the company, as a complete shock, 8am on a Wednesday morning. I had gotten my coffee, walked in like I had for 9 1/2 years at this particular location, and my boss pulled me into an office with a coworker still in it, and told me I was being laid off. Effective immediately. It was devastating. There really is no good time, but man, I got up and showered and got ready and was going to face the day then BAM!

  72. Glengarry*

    Not so much time of day but time of year – I used to work at a company that closed a huge factory, laying of nearly a thousand people. This factory was located in a very working class town, and the factory was one of the major employers in the area. They did this right after Christmas – I think the 26th or 27th. Apparently management had known for weeks that this was going to happen, and their reasoning was that they wanted to give the employees a stress free Christmas without having to worry about anything.

    But the thing is, I know that for the people in this town Christmas was the biggest event of the year and they would go all out – either saving money all year using a Christmas Club Account, or taking out loans to be paid off over the upcoming year. If they had been laid off as soon as management made the decision, they would at least have had the opportunity to temper their spending, plan things a bit differently, and basically just prepare for what was happening.

    Particularly considering that their future was going to be so bleak – high unemployment rates in the town as it was, one of the major employers closing, and about the only option for employment was to relocate, which is costly as well.

  73. Shrunken Hippo*

    From experience I can say that the location of the person’s work station can really matter. I was told that I was being laid off right before my lunch break which would have been okay except that I had to pass through the lunch room where all my coworkers were in order to get to my things to pack and then pass through again to get to the manager’s office so I could hand in my key only to pass through one last time to get out of the store. It was extremely difficult because I had no warning and no one else knew what was happening either so they kept wanting to small talk while I was desperately trying not to cry because I had no idea how I was going to pay rent that month. I found out later that they chose that time so they could lay off another girl at the start of her shift and they wanted to get both over with at the same time and didn’t want one of us to text the other about our lay off. It made me avoid the company at all costs (though I still hung out with former coworkers) because I didn’t trust myself to not get mad at them. Oh ya and they laid me off on my last day of probation because they didn’t really have a reason for letting me go other than the owners wanted their nephew to have the job instead.

  74. Piano Girl*

    I was laid off twice by the same company, both times on a Friday, with a two-week notice. The first time, several people throughout the office were being laid off, and my meeting was in the middle of the day. I went back to my desk, then watched my department members be called into a meeting and told I no longer had a job. I stayed and worked the rest of the day because I had deadlines to meet. The following Monday, the remaining employees were told that they had to take a 25% cut in pay. One of my managers decided to retire at his old salary, and I was back on payroll three weeks later.
    The second time was a Friday afternoon around 4:30. I had already been thinking about looking for another job, as I had received a tiny raise and not the promotion which I had been promised. I think we were in the meeting for about an hour, during which my boss cried because I was being so gracious. I went home and we went out to dinner. I think I preferred that.
    They fired another employee one day at around 5:30 (she always worked late) and walked her out of the door that night. It was quite unpleasant and I was happy to not have witnessed that.

  75. KL*

    At Big Bank 1 people didn’t get fired they got boxed. It was never at a set time but you could always tell because you would see 2 manager with a box peaking around corners and then the person’s manager would tap them on the shoulder for a meeting. As soon as the person was out of site the 2 manager would scurry to the desk and box all personal items, people who were boxed did not get to keep any big bank branded items the collected or earned.

    At Tech company they bragged about people not voluntarily leaving, that the only time people left was when they were fired. They were harsh too I have never heard of such short term PIP’s before.

    At Big Bank 2 people go on PIP’s a lot but generally don’t get fired. What Big Bank 2 does is rather heartless though they will have a town hall and have a big boss visit. Then instead of roundtable meeting will be set up for the big chunks laid off. Now every time a big boss comes everyone gets nervous. They do offer a decent severance package but we never know how much longer we have a job.

    1. Vanilla Nice*

      Tech Company sounds ridiculous. People never decide to move on voluntarily? I would have rolled my eyes at that.

  76. SusanIvanova*

    Coworker Coffeecup was fired on a Monday – it was a school but not work holiday and a lot of parents had taken the day off.

    He wasn’t a parent. He also hadn’t told anyone he’d taken the day off. The manager stuck with the task spent the morning going around asking if “anyone knew if Coffeecup was working that day”

    It was such a beautiful straight line, I answered with “I don’t know if he’s working *any* day.”

  77. londonedit*

    Not fired (unless it’s a case of gross misconduct, which I guess you’d be aware of, it’s very difficult to fire someone in the UK without going through a process of warnings) but I was once made redundant, and that happened on a Monday morning. It was a very small company, which I think had something to do with the fact that we had no warning, or perhaps the law has changed since then – I think now you have to be given notice that your job is at risk of redundancy, and there has to be a consultation period before decisions are made about which positions will be eliminated.

    Anyway, I turned up to work at 9.30am, boss turns up at about 10.30 as usual, and asks three of us to meet him downstairs. That’s when we were told that the company couldn’t afford to keep us on – it was last in, first out, we were the last three people to have been hired. They gave us a month’s pay as a goodwill gesture, they let us go back upstairs and pack up our stuff and set our out of office to reflect that we no longer worked for the company, and that was that. We all went to the pub.

    I’m not sure that there ever is a good time…when all of the above happened, I’d just come back from a fantastic weekend and it did rather ruin my mood. On the one hand, maybe I’d have preferred for it to have been a Friday morning, because then I still would have gone to the pub but I’d have had the weekend to lick my wounds and come up with a plan to start applying for jobs first thing on Monday morning. But on the other hand, maybe I would have felt like I’d worked the whole week for nothing, and maybe it was better to have the whole of the rest of that week to start applying for stuff.

    1. Lucy*

      Spouse has gone through redundancy as a manager recently and yes there is a pretty long consultation process plus statutory minimum payoff which is based on length of service, something like a week’s pay per year served?

      Worth noting that the company can choose its criteria for who to get rid of, and length of service is absolutely permitted, meaning you can decide to get rid of the people you’d have to pay least redundancy to …

      1. Lucy*

        I decided to look up the statutory minimums on the government website. I hadn’t realised (1) the amount varies by age you were when you worked and (2) up to £30k is tax free. The website says:

        Pay is capped at £525 (£547 in Northern Ireland) per week. Length of service is capped at 20 years. The maximum amount of statutory redundancy pay is £15,750 (£16,410 in Northern Ireland). Years of service or earnings over these amounts aren’t included in the calculation.

        You can’t get less than the statutory amount but you may get more if your employer has a redundancy scheme. Redundancy pay up to £30,000 is tax-free.

        You get:

        0.5 week’s pay for each full year worked when you’re under 22
        1 week’s pay for each full year worked when you’re between 22 and 41
        1.5 week’s pay for each full year worked when you’re 41 or older

      2. Bagpuss*

        There are rules about whether you have to consult, plus if Lonfonedit and the other people let go wwere all within their first 2 years service, then they could be dismissed for any (non-discriminatory) reason, in which case it would not have been necessaryto go through a formal redundancy process.

        The requirements bout consultation are diffrent depending on how many people are affected. If the employer is making 20 or more people redundant there are very specifc processes that have to be followed. If the number of redundancies is lower than that then there still has to be a fair process and consultation, but it is up to the employer how to achieve that.

        When we had to make some redundancies, some years ago, we tried to be very clear and open, so we set very clear timescales as to what would happen when, including the dates when everyone would be told the outcome, and we tried to keep the timescales as short as we could and still meet the criteria for consultation etc, so it wasn’t hanging over anyone’s head any longer than necessary.

        Because of the ned for selection pools, and consuling etc you have the aded issue of having people who are told they are ‘at risk’, and you can’t tell them that they are not being let go until after you’ve broken the news to those who are being made redundant, which adds a whole extra level of stress.

        I think it is more common in theUK for people to work out their notice when they are dismissed or made redundant (except in cases of gross misconduct) so the issue of letting people leave without speaking to their remaining coworkers tends not to arise very often.
        When we dealt with the redundancies, we told people early in the day 9and then were able to tell those not selected that theyhd not been made redundant) but let them chpse whether they then wanted to go home for the rest of the day .

        it’s a horrible situation to be in.

        1. (Former) HR Expat*

          We would almost always pay in lieu of notice, especially if we were terminating and not making redundant. Assuming it was in their contract that we could do so, of course.

        2. londonedit*

          Yes, we’d all been there less than a year (they did a rash of over-optimistic hirings and then discovered at the end of the financial year that they couldn’t actually afford us…) and they were only making three of us redundant. They gave us a month’s salary as a gesture of goodwill – I don’t think legally they had to give us anything (certainly not me, I’d been there less than six months). I actually ended up going back to the same company (don’t ask…) and a few years later there was another round of redundancies – that time we were put on notice for a consultation period, the bosses ranked everyone’s jobs using various criteria, and we were able to put forward arguments as to why our particular job was more essential to the business than the others. In the end they didn’t end up making anyone redundant because the process caused enough people to leave of their own accord, but it was pretty hellish. Not sure whether I might prefer the Monday morning ‘Sorry, redundancies are happening and you’re one of them’ to the horrendous weeks of uncertainty and feeling like you’re competing with your colleagues to justify your job’s existence. We spent a lot of time in the pub that summer, too.

    2. (Former) HR Expat*

      There’s a minimum working period needed for statutory redundancy pay in the UK. You have to be working at least 2 years before you’re eligible. Although I’m a little unclear whether they have to consult with you if you’re not eligible for statutory pay. While it’s an awful thing to do, the company might take the approach that you have very little recourse if they don’t consult, since you can’t file a tribunal claim in the first two years anyway (unless in cases of discrimination, whistleblowing, or a couple other exceptions).

  78. Lucy*

    I’ve only been let go once (UK, at-will doesn’t exist, typical notice periods are symmetrical and measured in weeks if not months) and it felt pretty brutal. I was a temp on a rolling weekly contract, and there had been no comments about my performance or change in business need or anything, so I was under the impression it would just roll indefinitely.

    Every Friday I had to spend my lunchtime going to the temp agency, physically picking up my paycheque, and paying it in at the bank. This was ok as the agency laid on free lunch (sandwiches, potato skins, pastries, etc) and it was a nice social occasion chatting with other temps and the agents.

    Except the one Friday when I got there and the agent said “oh I’m glad you’re here, I just want to tell you what interviews we’re setting up for you next week” – that’s how I found out that the boss twenty feet from my desk had told the agency not to book me again. And then I had to get the bus back to work and finish the working day.

    Fortunately one of the interviews the following week led to a temp-to-perm in a niche field I am now senior in.

  79. Media Monkey*

    my husband’s previous employer used to make people redundant the thursday/ friday before the mid-December christmas party on the saturday (which was fairly well attended and a dinner and party at a hotel, all paid for for employee and partner including room for the night). guess there’s no point entertaining someone if you are getting rid of them? also, merry christmas!

  80. Midge*

    I was once laid off via voicemail.

    Okay, not quite. But we knew they were almost certainly laying people off because of an office restructuring. We were anticipating it for months. I was gone on a planned, approved half sick day to take my child to a specialist medical appointment 2 hours away. I heard later that someone in the office got a call from the main office (in a different city in our state) letting her know she was going to be laid off. We were pretty sure there would be two of us. I came in early the next morning to a voicemail asking me to call them back. It was obvious. I played phone tag with them all morning, every time trying to find an empty office because my own work area was in a shared area with three other people so I had no privacy. It was a fucking mess.

    Of course in this situation we were able to work for a couple more months, so it wasn’t as if time of day or method affected much. But please have the decency, managers, to lay people off IN PERSON. Especially if you are within an hour or two of them, and it’s not urgent.

  81. Zephy*

    The one time I was fired, my boss took me aside privately while I was on my lunch break, said “this isn’t working out,” and gave me my last checks. I happened to have all my personal items with me at the time, so I just left. I didn’t see anyone on the way out, I don’t know how they handled it on their end, I don’t care.

    I guess it counts as being laid off from another job – I got a phone call from my boss at the time, on my day off, saying he couldn’t afford to keep me on past the end of the month. Then, when I went in for my next shift, he took me off the schedule for the weekend. I was scheduled to work the following week. Instead, I showed up and dropped off my key and work shirts, and promptly blocked his number.

  82. FormerMathEditor*

    I’ve been part of a big (relative to company size) layoff twice, both in the wake of the company being bought by another.

    The first time, people were called in individually to an office and laid off. Which meant it took a long while, even having started in the morning, and they were doing it alphabetically by last name. My last name is towards the end of the alphabet, so it was rather late in the day, and already knowing that X and Y and Z and Q were already gone… The part I’m still bitter about isn’t really their fault, but: a friend was going to Australia with her (medically interesting) offspring, and was taking a friend to be the second adult, because the spouse was unavailable. She booked the travel that day; had I known I had all the time in the world, I could have had a free trip to Australia with a great friend.

    The second time, we had to sit through a meeting about the new HR rules and processes, then the group of us being laid off were told afterward. Why the order wasn’t reversed, I have no idea. Interestingly, I was asked if I’d like to freelance remotely to finish some projects for the company. (Gripe on that one: I’d referred a friend when they needed more people; that friend wasn’t laid off, and is still working for them today (over a decade later). It made it a bit uncomfortable between us for a while.)

  83. Luna*

    Most of the time, I was informed that I was being fired/let go by either being in the store on my day off and asked if I had a moment to come to the back to talk (insert here the beginning of the increased heart rate because you dread and think you know what’s about to happen) or I was called to meet up with someone at a place.
    Though when the latter happened, it was for a job I had no desire for anymore, so I couldn’t even get myself to feel sad or cry about it.

    Can’t say I think both of those ways were good. Both involved me taking time out of my (at the time limited) freetime to do something work-related, and the former was a huge slap in the face because I wasn’t even aware I was in ‘danger’ of being fired.

    Beginning of the work day would bug me because I might not be as mentally up to things as I usually would, and processing the news would probably take longer, and maybe even lead to being not fast enough mentally to ask questions about the Why.
    End of the work day might be a bit better because then you can at least tell yourself that, well, you’re still getting paid for those hours you’ve worked that day, so… that’s something.

    I don’t think there’s a ‘good’ time to do it. Every time will be bad, for any reason. Because letting an employee go/getting fired is always a bad experience.

  84. Slimer*

    IT sent out an appointment asking us all to leave our laptops in the office tonight so software can be upgraded, so I guess Wednesday morning is firing time at my company!

  85. Anonanon*

    My experience terminating an employee recently – I believe it was done mid-week but I can’t remember for sure. Mainly, she had been on a PIP for an extended amount of time and since she still wasn’t meeting expectations, termination was imminent. HR advised putting it off by about a week – it was the end of a calendar month and employee benefits, like health insurance, would run through the end of the same calendar month of the employee’s last day. So it was kinder to wait until the beginning of the next calendar month so she could have health insurance a little longer. HR also recommended scheduling the final PIP review (AKA termination) for early in the day so she would not be anxious all day. My only concerns about time of day was that this employee relied on public transit and I hated to leave her in a bind for getting home that day after being fired. But she had been driving in lately.

    I guess all of this is to say that there are a lot of factors to consider, so it’s not really wise to make a blanket rule what day of week or time of day is best to terminate someone. It sucks no matter what, and a rule like this really won’t do much to soften the blow. People are terminated for a variety of reasons. If it’s coming off a PIP or performance problems, chances are, the employee sees this coming and has some time to prepare for it. However, if it’s based on a single, egregious event, it might be protocol to handle things immediately.

  86. Unemployed Bday Girl*

    I was let go from a job I loved just a few days ago.

    Today is my birthday.

    There is never a good time.

    1. Luna*

      Congratulations on your birthday.
      Hope you can find some joy, even if it’s some small thing.

  87. moneypenny*

    The kindest move is the fake meeting. I worked at a small family company and in our department, there were only four of us. When they fired one person, the HR rep stood there with her while she packed her stuff up, crying, and the other three of us just had to sit there pretending to work or give her sympathy glances. It was so awkward for everyone, it could have been handled any other way than that.

  88. Angela*

    Timing is a big part. I was let go just a couple of days after my birthday, which also happened to be a few days before Christmas. My manager had given me a birthday card and was going to take our (very small) team out for a group birthday lunch the following week. But I never got to go, since I was let go the day before. Leaving it painfully obvious to the rest of the team when I was missing during the birthday lunch the following day. One of them even cried when they found out what happened.

    My boss had never managed someone else before, and it reeeeeally showed.

  89. Vanilla Nice*

    When I was in high school, I worked at a horrible retail job one summer where the general manager would ocassionally fire people not only in front of co-workers, but within earshot of customers. She once told another cashier, “If you don’t stop crying, you’re next.”

    I was not surprised when the whole place went bankrupt less than a year later.

  90. EH*

    I’m used to the standard being late afternoon on a Friday, for the workplace violence concerns Alison mentioned.

    However, the last time I was “laid off” (basically fired but they gave me severance) they did it in the middle of the day on a Wednesday – which happened to be the same day as a software release where I had significant updates to post. If I’d been a nastier person, I could’ve done some significant user-facing harm. Be smart about timing, people. (I don’t expect a cookie for not sabotaging the place, but damn, it was unwise timing.)

  91. Merrie*

    We had to terminate one of my direct reports for repeated attendance violations. After multiple shenanigans and writeups he had been issued a final written warning, and told that he needed to report to work on time and work his whole shift or the next instance would mean he was fired. Not too long after that (less than a month later) he came in to work 2 hours late on a day I and my boss were both off, and worked his shift. The next day I worked he was off and I was furious when I found out what he’d done. So the next morning he showed up to work and we (my boss and I) brought the hammer down. It was somewhat unfortunate because he Ubered to work, but letting him continue to work after he’d done something we’d explicitly told him he’d be fired for didn’t seem like a wise course of action. And it was entirely preventable on his part–he knew perfectly well that he needed to show up to work on time, and didn’t. So I don’t feel too bad for him.

  92. Carina*

    As a how to NOT fire someone: I was told I would being fired in the near future, ” just so you know” (no date was given) If i left, it would be me quitting, and I would not get severance, so I decided to wait it out.
    2 months later they gave me a date 1 month from then. The day before my “last day”, my boss had me in a metting all day “handing in my post”, and randomly getting up and leaving me alone in his office. It got late, 2 hours after the end of the work day he told me not to bother going on the next day.
    If you are going to fire someone, the best time i think is 2 hours into the workday, but just do it during working hours , give time to “hand in the work”, the person should not have to stay the full work day or overtime. Just starting the day feel or at the very end of a work day would feel like a hassle.

  93. So I says to Mabel*

    At my workplace, people who have been fired are walked to the door and can later arrange to come back to get the rest of their personal belongings. This is due to bit of a history of small-time vandalism in the company and also according to confidentiality rules we have to live up to. I believe that people are given the choice to have the office cleared (the other colleagues called into a fake meeting) or not, depending on how they want to say goodbye.

    Last time we had layoff at my workplace, it had been announced that it would be by day X at the latest. No one were fired in my department, but my manager refused to phone or call anyone into his office for anything that day, for fear that anyone would get the wrong idea.

    One of my colleagues told me these stories about firings at her previous workplace:
    – A higher up lady had come from headquarters and everyone knew she was there to fire people. At the end of the day, the remaining people were relieved – but then, the next day, she was there again.
    – Lay-offs being announced and people told to stay at their desks all day, hoping their phone would not ring.

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