why do so many managers do firings and layoffs at the end of the day?

A reader writes:

Why do so many managers do firings and layoffs at the end of the day? I had a work friend who got let go. I don’t personally think they should have been, but I acknowledge I don’t have all the details. That said, the way they did it seemed crappy.

My company is fairly spread out, with most employees being remote. In the morning, our “big boss” sent a meeting request to my friend and our manager for 4:30 that afternoon. At that point, the writing was on the wall, especially with how vague the meeting request was. However, in our system, we can see everyone’s calendar and availability. There were multiple times throughout the day where all parties were free and they could’ve done this. But they chose to make him work the entire day with that hanging over his head. What is the thinking there? I mean, I’ve seen Office Space with the joke “do it Friday afternoon, less chance of an incident.” But this guy was remote. There was no possibility of an incident. Are they just cowards who wanted to be able to send an email after hours letting people know what happened? Is there some “good” reason for this?

I’ve even had the same thing happen years ago. Around 9 am I got a vague meeting request with my VP. They laid me off later that day. But like, why not just do it that morning?

There are a bunch of theories on the best time of day (and the best day of the week) to fire or lay someone off. Different people will tell you different things.

Some people say to do it at the end of the day so that the office has emptied out by the time the meeting is over and the person doesn’t have to walk past a bunch of coworkers to get their things. Some people say to do it around lunch time for the same reason. Some say to do it at the start of the day so that the person isn’t left feeling like, “Why did you let me work the whole day, if you knew this was coming?” Some people recommend Fridays so the person has the weekend to accept what happened, which supposedly lowers the risk of them coming back to the office angry (and possibly dangerous) the next day. Some people recommend earlier in the week so the person can start a job search right away and isn’t left stewing with nothing to do over the weekend (this hasn’t made sense in at least two decades but people still say it).

These are all theories. As far as I know, none of them have been proven — but you’ll definitely hear people toss out one or another of them, and if that person is the manager or in HR, it can get passed down as gospel.

More often, though, the timing of firings and layoffs is determined by more mundane practicalities like when HR will have the termination paperwork processed by, or when IT will be available to disable access, or when the manager is through with other stuff they have to do first that day.

{ 256 comments… read them below }

  1. frame*

    i find this such an odd type of question because it has to happen at a time. it‘s no fun, but you can’t do it in a timeless space.

    1. municipal government jane*

      Yes. There is no good time, no good subject line on the invite, etc.—though there are terrible ones. Maybe it’s just bargaining. The experience is so awful under any circumstances, people look to what we feel could have been done differently. If we accept the bigger picture writing on the wall, these tiny details are what’s left… the overwhelming feeling of “why?!” sort of feels better when there are details to hang on it.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yep it’s similar to how I’ve listened to a lot of friends bemoan the *way* they were broken up with, and although I get that it feels like if the other person had just delivered the news in a different way, it wouldn’t have felt so bad – I think being broken up with just feels really bad when it’s not what you wanted to happen and the focus on the timing/language/media is displacement.

        1. Combinatorialist*

          And really, often with breaking up or leaving a bad job/fit, it feels really bad even if it is what you wanted to happen

        2. Rufus Bumblesplat*

          Eh, sometimes it’s displacement, but sometimes the method and timing leaves much to be desired. I once had a perfectly normal conversation with an ex, said goodnight, and then woke up the next morning to an IM sent in the middle of the night to break up with me, which rather sucked.

          There was also the letter writer who wrote in about firing an employee directly after their mother had died.

          1. Riot Grrrl*

            True. There are particularly bad times and methods for such things. But I think people’s main point here is that these kinds of questions assume that there exists some sort of good timing or method that will avoid pain. And such a time or method doesn’t really exist.

            1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

              Oh, I agree that there are no good times for those kinds of conversations, but one should make an effort to pick the least worst.

      2. AnotherOne*

        in general, any meeting- at any time of day- that’s scheduled without a specific agenda, always has me panicked for my job.

        1. Luna*

          I have had so many bad experiences with losing my job when a supervisor/manager wants to talk to me, just the words “Can we talk for a moment?” or being called to their office has me close to a panic attack. Even if it’s just a minute of them wanting to say they were impressed how I handled something previously.

          1. Greg*

            The, “Hey I need to talk to you, let’s schedule some time three days from now,” used to be my most hated comment from my boss. Even though I knew it was nothing to worry about, it automatically got my anxiety up.

            But then I told him that and now he doesn’t do it anymore! So win-win.

            1. Flash Packet*

              Being told you no longer have a job does not automatically mean that someone has been fired for cause. Yeesh.

              Anyone who has worked a few decades (and depending on the industry) at this point has a high probability of having been laid off during the Early ’90’s Recession, the Dot Com Bust, the Early 2000’s Recession, the Great Recession, and the COVID Contraction.

              I got laid off in the Dot Com Bust and the Great Recession. Fun times.

        2. TrainerGirl*

          So true. I once had a meeting that was called with our whole team by the director. She even made an employee who was on maternity leave come in. We were all panicked. Turns out, they were hiring two new people and folks were speculating, and the director just said “Stop spreading rumors”. Really??? People were really PO’d.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            I had one once at my old job where the venue got changed at the eleventh hour to another meeting room in another of our buildings. My coworker, who had once been laid off by being called to a meeting room in another building, immediately assumed that this change meant the meeting was going to be about layoffs as well, and circulated this. Cue lots of tales of Layoffs I Have Known, right up until we got there and found out that we were being told that our old manager was taking over managing us again. Adding him to the meeting had taken it over the capacity for the originally booked room and that was why they’d moved it to another building.

            (Layoffs did eventually happen at that job, but not for quite a while, and wouldn’t have been known about at the time of that meeting).

          2. Flash Packet*

            During the Great Recession, we had quarterly waves of last-minute team meetings where we all crowded into a conference room and, before management even started speaking, would realize one to 10 of us were missing.

            We were always called into a “team meeting” during layoffs so that the people who were let go could collect their things without interacting with anyone.

        3. Pdweasel*

          Omg same. I was thrown under the bus a handful of times during my residency (MD here), so when my then-grandboss (current boss—yay promotions!) called me into her office for a meeting, I was terrified. I sat there shaking like a wet chihuahua until she looked up from her computer and said, “Why are you acting like that? We’re just here to talk about your goals for the next 6 months!”

        4. Oska*

          The first year after I completed my studies and started working full-time, I’d cold-sweat whenever I was pulled into an ongoing meeting with no warning.

          After the first ten or so “How do I start a slideshow” / “this table doesn’t work” / “why can’t I edit pictures in Excel” / “can I do X in Word”, I think my fight-or-flight response just got numb… (I’m not in any sort of tech support role, I just manage to become known as The MS Office Wrangler anywhere I go.)

        5. Curmudgeon in California*

          Me too.

          I’ve been laid off in so many horrible ways, so many times. The better ones give you a few days notice “At the end of the week you will be laid off. Please wrap up or transfer your projects. This is the severance, etc, that you are getting. Outplacement services, yada, yada, yada. You can leave earlier once you’ve transitioned your projects.” But since a lot of people don’t take layoffs well, moist companies don’t do that.

        6. DuskPunkZebra*

          I HATE vague meeting invites. So much.

          In a previous job, I had one sit on my calendar for nearly a WEEK that had me spiraling. I had been having some issues, including one project where I gave an estimated timeline and conditions I needed met to meet it, didn’t get some very important meetings I needed, and came to learn later that my rough estimate had been taken as gospel and when my project went over, it was An Issue. (And it wasn’t even really important, but the project lead had some weird priorities and no concept of what my job took to do.) I spent all week flailing about, trying to guess what was going to be said, and trying to figure out accommodations and supports to ask for and try to head off problems that were rooted in communications and expectations differences.

          I had been right, it was a performance meeting, and it went well, all things considered, but I was an anxious mess and fighting back tears in front of both my bosses.

          I probably would have been twisting if I had known beforehand, but I probably would have had a chance to calm down and go in more collaboratively with less emotion about it.

          It doesn’t help that it was my second professional job and I had gotten my layoff notice as a blindside first-thing-in-the-morning call in my previous job and then been expected to work the full day.

    2. Olivia*

      Well, I think OP definitely has a point about a situation where you know all day that you have a mysterious meeting at the end of the day and spend the whole day being anxious about it. That’s thoughtless on the big boss’s part. It’s also pretty shitty that they knew the rest of the team could see the meeting, and that it was a meeting between just the employee, the boss, and the grandboss. You’re supposed to try to protect the employee from embarrassment in front of other coworkers to the extent that you can. So there were multiple ways in which the big boss here was thoughtless/unkind and didn’t use their power with care. I don’t think it would have been so bad if the person didn’t spend the whole day thinking bad news was coming or might be coming, or if they didn’t do it in a way that made it so everyone else could see. Even if they were going to tell them in the morning that they wanted to meet, they could have done it in an email and no one else would know.

      When I was laid off, my boss’s boss asked me to come to her office towards the end of the day on a Friday. I was blindsided and in shock when they told me they were letting me go, but it would have been far worse if I had reason to think that was coming and had to spend all day fretting about it. I had no idea it was coming–it was the first round of layoffs and nothing of the sort had ever been mentioned–so when she told me to come in her office, I thought I was likely in trouble for something, but couldn’t imagine what.

      Incidentally, my boss was not in that meeting, which seemed strange to me, and on Monday he emailed me saying that he had no idea that was happening and would have gone to the meeting if he had known (it happened after the time he normally left for the day). That company was pretty dysfunctional, especially with any HR-type matters.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        It’s also pretty shitty that they knew the rest of the team could see the meeting, and that it was a meeting between just the employee, the boss, and the grandboss.

        Maybe it depends by office, but in my office seeing that someone has a meeting with their boss and grandboss wouldn’t indicate to me that they were being fired.

        1. Olivia*

          Yeah, that’s a good point. I wouldn’t think much of it either if I saw that on someone else’s calendar. I think it was this that made me feel that way:

          “In the morning, our “big boss” sent a meeting request to my friend and our manager for 4:30 that afternoon. At that point, the writing was on the wall, especially with how vague the meeting request was.”

          I guess this made me think that something about their office culture or the big boss’s previous behavior made it easy for the employee and their coworkers to accurately guess what the meeting was going to be about. But I guess that’s not necessarily the case. It could have been the way the bosses acted toward them during the day that made them think that, and it’s possible none of the other coworkers would have known except those who the employee told about it (it’s also possible that if the bosses were treating them differently, the rest of the team could have noticed it). So maybe there’s not enough info to say.

      2. JR*

        I didn’t interpret OP to say that everyone could see the meeting details, but rather that OP could see that there were times earlier in the day that all three participants were available, so she thinks they should have done it then. But of course, lots of companies have calendars set up so colleagues can see meetings details, so could be both.

    3. Antilles*

      Sure, there’s no perfect time; no matter how you do it you’re taking away someone’s paycheck / losing your job and that sucks no matter what. But it’s reasonable to think that some times are better than others (e.g., if you fired and want to have it happen on one of the better times. The problem is that everybody has a *different* opinion on what’s better, which is how you get this question.

      Another way to think about this is to ask this similar question: Would you rather be laid off immediately before a vacation or immediately after? Some people would argue that it’s horrible to let someone go on a trip and spend all that money on vacation; if I knew it was coming, I’d have skipped the trip to save money even if I could only get partial refunds. Other people would argue that it’s horrible to ruin someone’s vacation by dropping that bomb on them beforehand; since there’s already a lot of stuff pre-paid, I’m going either way but now I have to think about it constantly while there.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        For me, definitely after the vacation. At least then I can enjoy the vacation. I may slightly regret having spent that money after learning I no longer have a job but it’s a done deal. No good is going to come of knowing before the vacation. I’d spend the hours/days before debating the best course of action regarding the vacation but my options would ultimately be 1. Cancel trip and any money I have already spent, 2. Go anyway and spend most of the time worried and guilty about the money I’m spending, or 3. Try and modify to a “simpler” lower cost vacation, still worried and guilty about any money spent but added regret that I just didn’t go with option 1 or 2.

        1. frame*

          a boss taking this line of thought is basically deciding for you how you should manage your money.

        2. mike*

          also if you get fired after the holiday you’re getting paid for another 2 weeks for not being at work.

        3. Polly Hedron*

          I’d want to know before, to have the option to stay longer at my destination.

      2. Mrs. Coach Taylor*

        I just got laid off while on vacation with 10 of my extended in-laws and it was awful. Would not recommend.

    4. Medhbh*

      I’ve never laid anyone off, but we had to tell someone in my team that a product line she’d worked hard on was being discontinued. (Not being laid off or losing any income or seniority, just being moved to something we knew she’d be less passionate about.) My grandboss sent an email to everyone on that product team around 10:30 in the morning, and both that email and the separate on I sent made it clear I was available all the rest of the day to discuss the decision and the new project. And she STILL complained to HR that that was a completely unreasonable way to break the news, and it should have been done differently. It was very blatantly “I do not like this news so I will complain about the way it was shared”, but there wasn’t really anything I could do but nod along and make soothing my noises until she’d processed her disappointment enough to talk about the actual substance of the change.

    5. Junior Assistant Peon*

      The best time to fire somebody is as soon as possible after the decision has been made.

      1. Media Monkey*

        i had to fire someone (basically tell them there was no way they would pass their probation so we wouldn’t be continuing) in lockdown. my HR person told me to do it straight away after we came off the call where we agreed that we had done everything we could to bring him up to the standard we needed. couldn’t change how horrible it was for him but at least he knew straight away.

    6. One Woman Department*

      There’s no good time, but when I had to let someone do for performance issues, I did earlier in the week and in the afternoon. They could leave their badge, but if they needed time to process, they could come back for their things later in the week. Also, not ruining someone’s weekend immediately before it starts.

    7. Anonymous1*

      The worst time is end of day – do it right at the beginning. These people just want another day of labour that’s it.

      1. DisgruntledPelican*

        Completely disagree. Don’t make me come all the way to the office just to let me go.

        1. MarsJenkar*

          I agree with you. And the longer / more expensive the commute, the more a start-of-day dismissal is gonna sting.

          1. JustAnotherAnon*

            When I was laid off I had some amount of time I was to remain attached to the employer (to look for another job within the org before deciding whether to accept the package). This is a very large tech company that has layoffs pretty much down to an art and I presume has them dialed in legally. But I was instructed from that moment forward I was not to work at anything besides finding another position, internally or externally. All that to say in terms of milking extra work out of you at to the end of the day or whatever, I think by the time they’re laying you off or firing you they’ve already logistically re-allocated your workload so that canning will be minimally impactful to the company in question. In other words I think the payoff for keeping you on for one last 8 hour shift would be negligible.

      2. bishbah*

        The flipside to that point of view is, why ask someone to commute in and then not work the day (and be paid for it)? Depending on their transportation, they may not have a ride home at 9:30 or whatever in the morning.

        1. londonedit*

          When I was made redundant the boss made the announcements at 10am on a Monday morning (happened to be the day after my football team had won the Premier League, talk about a comedown…). I get that it had to happen at some point, and working in London there wasn’t the transport/lift home issue, and we were salaried so there was no not being paid for the day issue (and we were given a month’s extra salary as a goodwill gesture, even though we’d all been employed there for less than two years and therefore weren’t entitled to redundancy pay). But it still felt crap to turn up for work on a Monday morning, set everything up and check your emails and start getting into things as usual for an hour, and then…boom, no job. They did at least let us go back to our computers to email the authors we’d been working with and set an out of office message. Then, being British, we all went to the pub for the rest of the day/evening. Of course it wouldn’t have been ‘better’ if they’d done it the Friday before, but at least we would have had the weekend to process things (and go to the pub) and I think it would have felt less like we’d been dragged into the office just to be told we were losing our jobs.

          1. Don P.*

            Well…but if you got redundancied (?) on Friday it would have ruined your Premier League win. So, again, no good answers.

        2. Jasper*

          They should *of course* pay for the rest of the day. “effective immediately” would be even shittier than doing it at the end of the day.

    8. KelseyCorvo*

      see also: “Why did he/she have to break up with me over text rather than call?” “Why did they do it on a phone call rather than in person?” “Why did they make me meet them in person just to break up with me?”

  2. ThatGirl*

    I’ve been laid off twice; the first time was at the end of the day Thursday (but the rest of my team got let go Friday morning — it’s a whole story, but basically I was leaving for vacation and couldn’t be at this “important meeting” they were teasing). The second time was mid-afternoon on a Wednesday. I know two anecdotes don’t make a data set, but I’ve seen layoffs happen on every weekday and all times of day.

    1. Johanna Cabal*

      I was “lucky” to be laid off in January 2009 and then fired in July 2009 (the latter was a bad fit role I barely lasted three months in).

      For the layoff I was told at the end of the day on a Monday. For the firing, I was told right after lunch on a Wednesday (I believe it was a Wednesday).

    2. TrainerGirl*

      I got laid of 3x in 13 months. Each time was communicated at a different time of day and with different circumstances. I will say that when I heard in the morning, I spent the rest of the day applying for jobs, and that at least made me feel more productive, rather than going home at the end of the day and stewing/stressing that night. But it sucks no matter what.

      I don’t love that I got laid off so many times, but one thing I can say: it let me know that I can get another job. I’ve been lucky to spend a minimal time out of work for as many times as I’ve been laid off.

  3. Jennifer Strange*

    I think this is one of those things where there isn’t a perfect answer. Everyone and their mother is going to have an opinion on when firings/layoffs should happen based on what they would prefer. Ultimately it sucks no matter when it happens.

    1. Rayray*

      I agree. I was once laid off on a Friday just as I was preparing to leave and it felt super crappy. We had layoffs at my company recently that happened late morning- midday and I can’t imagine how those people felt having to pack up their desks while others worked around them. Then of course there was whispering and speculation ALL day about it.

  4. Robb*

    I’ve been laid off three times. I think all three times were in the morning and on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

    1. mli25*

      I have been laid off/fired three times. I didn’t really see any of them coming. One happened at 9:30am on a Monday (and normally would have conflicted with a standing meeting). One happened at 4pm on a Friday, after I specifically came into a different work location for that day for that meeting. One happened prior to a vacation (so probably Thursday) and was more like late morning. *shrug emoji*

  5. fine tipped pen afficionado*

    There’s never a good time to deliver this news and how the time will affect the recipient is probably at the bottom of the pile of concerns, but I also would be pissed if I spent a whole day working for people who knew they were about to let me go when I could have been home with my bra off instead lol.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      And some people would be annoyed if they were laid off in the morning because they feel like it was a waste to drive to the office.

      1. frame*

        weird question: how would you feel if during onboarding, the company collected your layoff/time preferences. as a um, personality assessment?

        1. Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein*

          I think I would be very alarmed. Like, is your turnover that heavily layoff/firing based versus people choosing to move on?

        2. fine tipped pen afficionado*

          I would assume there had been…. an Incident. And this was an awkward attempt to prevent More Incidents. It actually feels like a very logical thing to do, any time you enter into an agreement to define how that agreement can be dissolved so there’s no uncertainty. But life isn’t logical and it would feel like a red flag.

          1. Greg*

            Like a prenup! Super logical and really shouldn’t be a big deal…but also leads to the, “They’re planning on leaving me/They don’t think its going to work out/They don’t trust me,” thought processes.

        3. kittycontractor*

          I feel like there is a backstory they’re not sharing… I don’t know how I would answer that. Probably just call me at home and tell me and let me come after hours to get my stuff.

        4. AcademiaNut*

          That’s what I was wondering. The preferences are so varied and so strong, that the only way to do it would be to ask everyone personally what time of day they would prefer to get news about firings or layoffs, and whether they’d prefer before/after holidays. And asking that would freak people out.

      2. fine tipped pen afficionado*

        Yeah. I was simply laughing about my own feelings and not trying to state this is true for everyone or should be?

      3. IndoorKitty*

        I remember, years ago, wondering what I’d do for the rest of the day if I got laid off in the morning because my bus only ran during peak hours. I didn’t get laid off at that time, although I got to spend the day seeing many MANY of my coworkers crying as they packed up their things.

        1. turquoisecow*

          Many years ago my company did a mass layoff, which like most happened on a Friday morning. Those of us who remained were invited to a large group meeting that Friday afternoon – giving us time to absorb and have lunch. One of my coworkers was not let go but was also not invited to the large group meeting or told who her new boss was (this was also part of a huge reorganization).

          She contacted the admin who sent the email to everyone else, who told her to contact her boss. Since she didn’t have a new boss, she asked her old boss, who asked his boss, and several hours later it came out that she was supposed to be let go also.

          It sucked for her and everyone agreed it was a crappy oversight, but the one plus side was that the shuttle bus she normally took to work ran only in the morning and evening for the usual commuters, so if she’d actually been let go mid-morning she’d have had to find someone else to drive her home or paid for a taxi or something.

    2. BRR*

      Exactly. This reminds me of the letters where people take issue with what are perfectly professional job rejections. There’s just really not a good way to do it and people will take issue no matter what. I got laid off around 1 or 2 pm and I guess that seemed fine (I got to leave a little early that day).

      1. frame*

        yeah, that seems perfect. i think i‘d appreciate early EOD even in those circumstances (as long as i wasn’t already in a bad financial situation, of course).

      2. londonedit*

        Yeah, there is never going to be a good time. I suppose if I had a ‘preference’ it would be early afternoon on a Friday, because then you get to leave early and you’ve got the weekend to think things through before you start job-hunting on Monday. But no one is ever going to agree on the ‘best’ time, because everyone’s different and everyone takes it in a different way (see the whole ‘how could they get rid of people before Christmas/how could they let people spend money over Christmas and then get rid of them first thing in January’ argument).

  6. OrdinaryJoe*

    There is no good time but for a remote working, with a meeting request and writing on the wall, I’d say having to wait all day would be horrible. I personally preferred to let people go on a Wednesday or Thursday so if they had questions, they could quickly get in touch with HR, outside benefits companies or whatever they need to do. And, then, I could also meet with staff the next day and answer any questions, deal with any issues, etc. It helped start the next week off right or as right as possible.

    1. Love to WFH*

      Agree on sound it during the week — you can get people on the phone as you do things like apply for unemployment assistance, or set up medical insurance.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Yeah, my last layoff was remote in Nov. 2020, mid-day on a Wednesday, and I had until the EOD to save anything from my work laptop that I needed, and got paid through the end of that week. It was not ideal, but I was actually grateful to be home and have some time and space to cry and be angry and upset and also get my things in order.

    3. Olivia*

      It sounds like you handled it with a lot of care, both in terms of what might be helpful for the (ex-)employee logistics-wise, and in being up front about it with your other staff right away. It sounds like the kind of thing Alison is always talking about with regards to how the rest of your team will be paying attention to how you handle firings and lay-offs. It establishes transparency.

    4. Daisy-dog*

      At least you’re not at the office. You could start the grieving process privately or just watch TV all day.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      If I were working remotely and got laid off, I would definitely prefer it be in the morning.

  7. Person from the Resume*

    People have theories about when is the best time. Practically no one is happy to be laid off or fired so no matter what time of day or day of the week the fired person (or their friends) can be upset about it.

    Being remote changes the equation perhaps (no packing up of desk or walk out of the office last coworkers), but I think a lot of folks still think end of day is a good time to do it. Also it gives all day for whatever HR paperwork, IT access, security stuff that needs to be done before the time the employee is officially notified. “It’s happening today. OK HR will create documents with today’s date as his final day and have it ready for the meeting.”

  8. AlwaysAnon*

    I think people will be aggravated regardless of when it happens. I have been laid off twice, once being told first thing in the morning and once being told mid-morning. Re first thing in the morning, I was like you could have told me yesterday and saved me this hour commute… Mid morning was marginally better but still awkward. I grabbed my (thankfully minimal) stuff and left. My coworkers questioned aloud me taking lunch so early. I let them think I was indeed headed to lunch rather than explain I’d been let go.

    1. Dona Florinda*

      Same here: when I was laid off in the morning, I was more angry that they made drive all the way there for nothing when they could’ve just told me the day before, than at the lay off itself.

    2. Bob's Your Uncle*

      Same here: when I was laid off in the morning, I was more angry that they made drive all the way there for nothing when they could’ve just told me the day before, than at the lay off itself.

    3. Luna*

      When I was asked to come in for a meeting with the woman that hired me for my nightshift hotel job, I think I knew I was gonna be let go and the meeting was to tell me that and to sign the necessary papers. That was a matter of a good 24 hours time of knowing about the meeting because… well, nightshift means I might send off an email at 8AM my time, but I will then go to bed, so there is no way you can answer me at 9AM and expect me to be awake and available for a 4PM meeting on the same day. Only answered around 5PM that day, and said we can meet up at 4PM the next day.

      But there, I didn’t really care or had no particular feelings when I was informed. I was so mentally and physically exhausted and sick from working nighshift, it really messes with my already-compromised immune system, that I was practically an emotional zombie. I just nodded and said okay to being let go, signed the paperwork, and then went back home. Worked the days left for the notice.

    4. mike*

      in a previous job I had the manager would ask if people could come in early, so that he could sack them and they’d be gone by the time everyone else got in. I used to get in a 15-20 minutes early because of train times so once I managed to catch a colleague on the way out.

      Of course, because I was always in early anyway, I got no heads up when it was my turn to be sacked. (not that I hadn’t seen it coming, but y’know)

  9. Dona Florinda*

    When we have to fire someone, it’s usually by the end of the day so there’s less people around to see.

    A coworker once was let go first thing in the morning and it was very uncomfortable for everyone to silently watch as she packed her things and said her goodbyes. Plus, we couldn’t stop talking about it all day and didn’t get much work done.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      We had a mass layoff at my oldjob. Everyone was given a few months’ warning (you had to work out your time to get the severance package). As far as I knew, there was no specific time or day of the week that people were told they were losing their jobs.

      Everyone who was laid off had to have their stuff packed up & leave at noon the same day. Those of us who were left said goodbye – it was like a really depressing receiving line.

      Layoffs did not improve things, & I left a few years later.

      1. OrdinaryJoe*

        Not knowing anything about the company, obviously :-), but it almost seems more humane to have given all the ‘survivors’ the final day off and not have to watch the mass exodus. With a few months or even weeks notice, all the good byes and wrap ups could have already happened.

    2. AnotherOne*

      It doesn’t come up frequently in my office but I feel like when it happens, it tends to be first thing in the morning. (Back when we were in office.)

      Though that probably was a scheduling this as much as anything else. Hard to find a time that all of the relevant parties were available. (And our offices system tends towards you don’t pack your own things- there are a lot of confidentiality issues. So it isn’t as obvious when someone is being fired just from the meeting.)

    3. Johanna Cabal*

      In 2009 I was fired from a bad fit job after a few months. About a month before I was fired, another employee was fired. Apparently, they was job searching and needed to go to an interview so lied about some family members being in the hospital. Senior management found out and fired them.

      Fair enough, I suppose.

      But after the firing, senior management called all staff into the conference room and proceeded to tell us why the employee was fired, including all sorts of details none of us needed to know. I understand we needed to know this individual was let go (security, etc.) but a company email instead of an awkward staff meeting where the head of the company seemed to treat what happened as a personal betrayal.

      When they fired me, you bet I wondered what they said about me in the conference room!

    4. Eclecticism is a Virtue*

      To me, this is the most likely. It’s less of a spectacle for the coworkers. Whether this part is true or not, it at least feels less conspicuous if one day the person is there and the next day they are not, rather than a production being made out of them leaving midday.

      Another reason, perhaps intended as a kindness for hourly employees, can sometimes be to let them get one final day of pay in before losing the job.

  10. Screen Porch Office*

    I came back from 2 days away attending my grandmother’s funeral to find everyone looking at me with strange expressions and almost curiosity. I found myself saying, “ I’m fine, she was 98, I didn’t know her well, she’d been sick for a while,” thinking people were expecting me to be deeply grieving. Then I was called into my boss’s office and told what happened while I was away – the entire department had been told we were being eliminated, since the company decided stop selling our particular product. We were to work another 2 weeks, then be provided with outplacement services. They were all staring at me because I was the only one who didn’t know. It was frankly a bit of a relief when I found out! I didn’t really like that job, anyway.

    1. lobsterbot*

      I’m sorry you didn’t have a work friend who could have called you and let you know.

    2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      I was also relieved the one time I was laid off. When I started, I loved the job, but at the time of the layoff I’d been disenchanted for months and months, and frankly checked out as much as I could be without getting written up, so I was happy with the lay off. My severance was generous, outplacement services were provided, and I had another job before I hit two months unemployed. I’d stayed because it was my second job out of college and I had only been at my first one 1.5 years. I stayed to get a decent length of stay on my resume (ended up 3+ years at the time of layoff) and being laid off was an easy thing to explain in interviews.

  11. Not Today Josephine*

    My former manager was fired for many just causes. They were called into HR when they arrived at work, escorted back to their cube to get their stuff, and perp-walked out of the building. It was awesome!

    After they left, it was discovered that they had locked all the drawers, cabinets, etc. in their cube and took the keys. We had to get everything re-keyed for the next person. This was just the type of person they were.

      1. Antilles*

        Doing that intentionally is a jerk thing to do, yeah. But I’m also rolling my eyes at HR here for escorting the person back to their cube, then somehow failing to notice them locking every single cabinet and drawer. And also for not having a copy of the keys to begin with, given how commonly people lose keys or forget to return them.

        1. Tired of Working*

          Not Today Josephine said “They were called into HR when they arrived at work.” Maybe the manager had locked the cabinets and drawers the day before, right before going home. But ITA that management should have had copies of the keys.

          1. Not Today Josephine*

            They had to unlock the drawers, etc. to get their stuff. Since they got their stuff, we can assume they unlocked the drawers. After they left, it was found the drawers were now locked. As for HR, I don’t think they were watching closely enough to see what my former manager was doing, just making sure they were not taking any equipment. Why there was no extra key? Who knows.

  12. Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein*

    It’s always going to be a bad time, or a bad way to do it, or a bad something.

    If it was first thing in the morning, you would have people feeling ambushed — and in an office, probably frustrated that they’d just made their commute only to turn around and go home. In the middle of the day, it’d be the most obvious that someone was there earlier and now they’re not. At the end of the day, you’ve worked the whole day and now you’re out.

    1. Kyrielle*

      I find it interesting that having to work the whole day before being fired is a sticking point for people – though getting the invite first thing and having it hang over you all day would suck. But if they fire you first thing in the morning, you still worked all day the previous business day, presumably.

      I did feel bad for an IT guy at a previous job, though. Due to a series of *royal* screwups on his part, emails for a few days were lost as they restored to a last good backup. I was surprised they didn’t fire him on the spot. I did feel a little bad for him, though, when they fired him right after he finished cleaning up the mess as much as it could be.

      1. Lord Bravery*

        Yeah it seems like they’re unrealistically thinking that the firing decision was made that morning, and that the company went “bwaha, now we shall get an extra workday out of so-and-so!” But it was probably approved or at least in the works days to weeks ago. So there’s always days they “let” you work while not knowing. Just seems an odd focus for people’s indignation.

  13. River*

    I’ve heard it’s not all that uncommon to be laid off on a Friday at the end of the day. That way the bosses don’t have to think about it over the weekend as they’ll be distracted with their own personal lives. Monday, starts a new week and I am sure they have their plans set to start the new week without you and mentally preparing for it. Plus some businesses are closed over the weekend which is a good excuse for them so you won’t be able to march back in the following day since the office is closed. It sucks because you’ll be spending what was supposed to be a relaxing weekend, simmering and emotionally hurt by this termination. Plus being terminated at the end of the day means the bosses can go home and not have to think about it as much. Terminations at the beginning of the day I feel make things awkward the rest of the day/week.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Some folks will spend the weekend being upset about the firing/layoff and be ready to hit the ground running job searching on Monday. There’s no right answer.

      Personally even without a commute someone who WFH and is fired at the start of the day could complain that the company could have done it at the end of the day yesterday so they could have slept in this morning.

  14. Becky S.*

    Decades ago I was a technical recruiter for a bank, during the great Savings & Loan crisis of the late 80s. The bank wasn’t doing well at all. We spent a Friday afternoon meeting with people who were being laid off, explaining their severance packages. No one was being fired, everyone was eligible for unemployment compensation, but it was hard. People were teary and scared. At the end of that day, my manager shut the door and…. gave me my severance package. I should have seen it coming, I knew they weren’t going to hire any technical staff and there were other recruiters, but I didn’t see it coming. It was hard and I was teary. I survived and got a better job. The bank didn’t survive, it folded a couple months later.

    1. Daisy-dog*

      That’s so cold. You can tell because it’s the same as a plot on House of Cards.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        I thought the musical Blood Brothers: “Take a letter Miss Jones, my dear Miss Jones, I’d like to thank you, For your years of splendid service, et cetera, blah blah blah. You’ve been a perfect poppet, yes that’s right Miss Jones, you’ve got it, it’s just another sign of the times, Miss Jones!”

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Something very similar happened to one of my coworkers. They laid him off after he’d done his his team’s layoff meetings.

  15. anonymous73*

    There is no “best time” to let an employee go and trying to inject logic into it is pointless. It sucks whether it happens at the start of the day, the end of the day, on a Monday or on a Friday, or any other time in between. And everyone is going to have a different preference. There’s really no time or place to make it suck less.

  16. bassclefchick*

    I actually disagree with Alison. I got let go on a Friday afternoon at the end of the work day. This was back when you actually had to GO to the unemployment office. So, I had to wait the whole weekend before I could do anything. I would rather they had let me go either the day before or at least in the morning so I could DO SOMETHING. Instead, I had 2 days of being anxious and upset with no way to do the necessary tasks to set up unemployment, get going with staffing services, or anything else that had to be done during business hours.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      The whole point of Alison’s response is that there’s no answer that suits everybody.
      What works for you is exactly what someone else would hate.

    2. Colette*

      Yeah, I tend to agree that Fridays are more bad because most offices are closed for the weekend – so if you need to talk to someone about unemployment, banking, retirement contributions, outplacement help (if your company provides this), etc. you can’t do anything about it for 2 days.

      1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

        That’s the whole thing though, no one agrees. I kinda think I’d prefer a Friday. Take the weekend to get my resume brushed up and update job sites, then hit the ground running Monday morning. Since everything is electronic these days you can do almost anything except interviews on the weekend.

    3. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      You’re actually agreeing with Alison. She said:

      > Some people recommend earlier in the week so the person can start a job search right away and isn’t left stewing with nothing to do over the weekend (this hasn’t made sense in at least two decades but people still say it).

      She said that this USED to be a legit reason but it’s not anymore … because we can do so much online now. I remember getting fired so many ages ago that I was still using the classified ads to find office jobs, and it really sucked that they fired me late on a Friday. These days? Totally different.

  17. soontoberetired*

    I’ve always thought there are bad ways for firings and layoffs, and very bad ways for firing and layoffs. Very bad way – we learned months ahead of time there were going to be layoffs in my division (someone leaked it) so we had 5 months of anxiety and some people leaving on their own. Day finally comes, we are all told to go to our desks and they send people around to escort people out. We had also been told not to leave our desks until given an all clear. 3 hours into this, a friend and I went to lunch without the all clear, as did quite a few people. We were all traumatized. the head of the division thought things went well. We are pretty certain this person was forced out when they left a few years later.

    1. LTR FTW*

      And on the flip side, the layoffs I’ve been part of that were signaled well in advance were the ones that were the least painful. We saw it coming from a mile away, so we were all fully prepared for the axe to drop. The one that came out of left field was far and away the most traumatizing for me.

      1. soontoberetired*

        it was just poorly handled prior to the day and on the day. they were mad the news leaked and wanted someone to fess up when it was most likely a manager speaking in a public place about it (which is how other news got out). then we all had to watch people being walked out. They did mass layoffs more recently handled way better – people received 6 months pay, an opportunity to retrain, etc.

      2. The Original K.*

        Yes – my sibling got three months’ notice, which gave the team enough time to find other jobs (which most of them did in that time, including my sibling). The manager fully supported people taking time off to interview, gave them leads, etc.

        1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          I think that’s the best way to do it when you know in advance. Give people notice, let them find new jobs, help them as much as possible. It sounds like this… wasn’t handled like that. They knew the axe was coming because of a leak, no one knew who was on the chopping block, the actual day do was handled poorly, there was no help with finding something new, etc.

        2. Despachito*

          Perhaps this would be a solution – to give sufficient notice for the people to be able to prepare?

          When I was laid off, we had two months notice (as per law here), but we saw it coming for, say, 2 years. I was neither sad nor scared, I had plenty of time to interview, and we got a generous severance package (which is normally two months’ worth of pay but we got 5 or 6). And my employer gave us a leg up because we could provide our services to them for some more time through an agency which offered a decent fee (the problem was that they still needed them from time to time but it would not make sense to have in-house employees for that).

          I was never bitter at my employer that they let us go – they really did not need us anymore, so it wouldn’t make sense for them to keep us, and they were as decent as possible about it. As it is often said here, it is a two-way street, and as long as both parties remain decent, there is nothing to be bitter about. I think the three key things for me were:
          – that we knew it well in advance
          – that we received the severance pay
          – that we got the possibility to get the leg up at the agency.

          Perhaps this is why I absolutely do not remember the day or time when they told us.

          1. Chas*

            I agree with this. I was made redundant from my first job when the company I worked for went bust towards the start of the credit crunch in 2008, but they had made sure to pay us all early for the next month of work and told us straight away what was happening. That meant I got to spend a month job-hunting in an office with my more senior colleagues sat nearby, one of who ended up recommending me to an old colleague of hers in the local University, who which then lead to me doing my PhD.

            I also remember for sure what time or day they told us the bad news on, but I imagine if I’d had to leave immediately and start job-hunting without that help from my colleagues, I might have a better, more bitter, memory of them telling us.

  18. Rain's Small Hands*

    I spent a few years as a sysadmin – early in that part of my career the company I worked for did a mass layoff. I got, at the start of the day – a list of names and times. As they had hundreds to go to, the times started at 8:30 in the morning and went until 4 in the afternoon. At least once HR got behind and someone showed up at my desk with “I can’t get in.” Of course, by that time everyone knew what that meant, I just said “I’ll look into it, give me five minutes, I’m in the middle of something else” – knowing that by the time five minutes went by HR would have called them in.

    1. AlwaysAnon*

      The usernames at a former employer were a combination of your first and last names. I got married while working there and submitted my name change to HR. Months went by with no action and I didn’t care enough to follow up.

      I came into work one day and couldn’t log in to my computer. I contacted the help desk and provided my username as a part of the process. Only to be told there was no such username. Cue slight panic as I think that no one has bothered to let me know I was fired?! and how come?! The help desk asked me to provide my employee number. They were then able to find my username. HR had finally processed the name change, which triggered the username change, but no one bothered to tell me. Whew!

  19. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    I worked at a job where people were never, eve let go on a Friday. When I inquired why, they said it was because studies had shown (I have no idea if these studies actually happened or not) that when people were let go on a Friday they were at higher risk of going home and committing suicide.

    I was let go from my position there at 11:30am on a Wednesday morning, and told to leave immediately with a desk full of work and list of customer calls to return. The schadenfreude was particularly delightful for me when they went out of business about a year later due to gross mismanagement.

    1. Johanna Cabal*

      I wonder about these studies. I’ve also heard that being let on a Friday also reduces the risk of violence. But I personally feel if someone is going to harm themselves or others, they probably would regardless of when they’re told they’re out of a job.

      1. Purple Cat*

        I think the thought with this is if it’s end of day Friday – they can’t come back and inflict violence IN THE WORKPLACE because people have gone and offices are likely closed on Saturday.

  20. WFH mom in NY*

    The one time I was laid off, it was mid-day on a weekday. It was a mess. The CEO called me AND another employee on a conference call and laid us off at the same time (we were both remote). It was effective immediately, and my computer access was cut off about an hour later. I literally BEGGED for them to reinstate my computer access so I could finish a few tasks I was in the middle of and get things organized for whoever was taking over my clients.

    1. Generic Name*

      I mean, that’s awfully nice of you to not want to leave a mess behind, but that was their problem to handle.

  21. kiki*

    I feel like there’s no good way to be fired. There are some especially awful ones, but I think when you’re let go it’s easier to fixate on the execution of the firing and complain about that than to really process, “Whoa, I was let go. I don’t have a job.”

  22. Sexy Tina, Train Conductress*

    Yeah my friend just got laid off early in the day–but the paperwork wasn’t ready, so she had to wait the rest of the day to receive that.

    The (one) good think my evil ex employer did when they laid me off was they did it early in the day, let me take the rest of the day off, and had the paperwork ready for me on the call. But it’s always gonna suck.

  23. just another bureaucrat*

    I want to say that just because someone works from home doesn’t mean that it’s a zero risk situation. There are risks to the data and equipment that the person has of course which is the most obvious one. But there are still risks to the business and risks to the individual too.

    I don’t think there’s any good way to do this, but working from home does not eliminate risk of an incident occurring. It might make it less likely to be someone yells in the office, but there are a lot of personal things too. (People are at home and there is certainly always a risk that someone harms themselves. While I’m sure some people and businesses would be like great not my problem it’s still absolutely an incident worth caring about.)

  24. Sad Desk Salad (which I am eating right now)*

    I agree with all that there’s no good time to let someone go. I’ve only been laid off once, and I think they handled it about as well as they could. It was a Friday afternoon, but not too late–I had just gotten back from my lunchtime workout–and was called into a conference room. When I saw HR there, I knew what was up. Fortunately my boss was amazing, and the company gave me excellent severance, a full bonus, and a month to wrap things up (so that my first year’s stock options would have a chance to vest). I’d also get paid for the full 10-day end of year holiday, and could work remote as much as I wanted (not typically an option for that company). I was able to skip the end-of-year festivities because who would want to go to them in that scenario, and focus on my next move. I was given all the time I needed to interview elsewhere, no questions asked, and was offered positive references, and was told they wouldn’t object to my application for unemployment benefits (which I ended up not needing, since this flexibility allowed me to start a great new job a mere three days after my time was up).

    No one likes getting laid off, but in the end, that was the very best way they could do it. I still think of that company and my boss very fondly and hope they’re all doing well.

    1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      My last lay off the company laid me off the first week of January, and from a work perspective it was effective immediately. My pay and benefits continued through the end of the month however. That was weird, but welcome. I was still paid a severance and my accrued vacation separately, but I was effectively still employed by them in all ways other than actual work, for three weeks. I was technically working a new job before the end date of my last job.

      1. Agile Phalanges*

        When I was laid off when the company closed my location (I have a main comment about it below), they gave us six weeks notice and a stay bonus if we stayed till the end, but severance pay regardless. I took my time finding a job, and when I did, it was a few weeks before the end date that would have meant receiving the stay bonus. New job needed me to start right away (they’d fired someone for embezzling, so I was learning from the only other person who knew the tasks and she was headed on an out-of-cell-service vacation in a few days–talk about pressure!), so I worked it out with both of them that I’d work one day at new job learning stuff, one day at old job working on hand-offs, and so forth, for a couple of weeks, then another week or so of PTO to put me to officially “working” at old job until the stay bonus date (with not only the blessing of HR, but it was her idea–I figured I would have to forego the stay bonus, but she encouraged me to take it). Win-Win-Win, as Michael Scott would say. Both jobs got work out of me when it was needed, and I got the maximum monetary benefit, though learning a new job while wrapping up the old one is a little taxing, mentally.

    2. Despachito*

      I think this is absolutely the way how to go about it.

      The timing as to what day or time of day is irrelevant. What sounds awful to me is the termination on the spot, and sometimes even being walked out of the building. Where I live we have a standard notice of 2 months, so after you give or receive notice, you are expected to still be working for two months, usually to wrap things up or train your replacement. Of course you can agree otherwise but it must be mutual. The scenario of being cut off the system immediately and walked out of the building would be very non-standard here and would mean that you probably committed a fraud or a serious breach of the rules and they have a reason to be afraid that you would be dishonest. I’d find it deeply offensive if they did it to me.

      I think it is sometimes necessary to let go a good employee, but there is no reason not to be as decent as possible towards them (if I was a stellar employee working for you for several years, why would you think I’d want to retaliate and damage you while leaving)?

  25. KylieHR*

    I got laid off in the middle of my birthday potluck in 2009, during the Recession. Middle of the week, middle of the day. I was not allowed to go back to my desk and gather my things, I was handed a box of stuff that had been packed while I was in the meeting, and then I was escorted out by an off duty police officer. This was a geniune layoff and I was treated like a criminal. Left a whole plate of food on my desk too. Happy Birthday to me!

    1. The Original K.*

      A VP at a previous employer was fired on her birthday – we had cake and she was gone like 20 minutes later. She and her boss palpably disliked each other; I think he did it on purpapse.

    2. FiredUp*

      Ugh, I am so sorry this happened to you. I can emphasize, in that I was also let go in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week. I was not allowed to go back to my desk and gather my things until that evening after the office had “closed.” They had someone pack my stuff up while I was in my meeting and bring it to me. It was humiliating to walk out of the meeting and everyone knew what had happened. I had to come back later that night and grab the remainder of my things, only to see people who were working late giving me looks of pure pity.

      Granted, it was a dysfunctional office and in hindsight I knew from day one this was the wrong job for me, but it was gut wrenching all the the same to have felt like such a “failure” in that moment of hearing “you’re fired” from people who very much should not be in leadership roles .

      Fortunately, the job I took next ended up being my dream job and I’ve happily been there for the last decade! It took that firing to be a wakeup call and push me to a new line of work and it paid off!

    3. Elenna*

      There are no really good ways to do a layoff but there are really bad ways and that is definitely a bad way. Sorry that happened to you!

    4. Curmudgeon in California*

      I hate it when they have someone else pack my stuff. I’m not a criminal.

      I don’t trust anyone not to miss stuff (they have) or break something by improper packing (they have). I’ve lost plants, good pens, small tchotchkes, and other stuff that made it seem like the rest of the office had a feeding frenzy at my desk while it was being packed.

      I don’t mind if they want to watch me pack, I’ll need help to carry all my boxes anyway. But someone else going into my desk and finding my spare underwear and incontinence supplies, plus the folders with all of my personal paperwork from the job? No. Leave me my dignity, please.

      If I even get a whiff of layoffs now, and I’m in an office, I take important stuff home early. I can always bring it back if I’m not in the departing group.

  26. Zee*

    See, I’d be mad if I got fired/laid off right at the beginning of the day, because I drove all the way into work just to not get paid (although I guess that wouldn’t apply for a fully-remote employee). I’d also be anxious about leaving things halfway done, but leaving at the end of the day on a Friday makes it more likely that whatever I’m working on would be left at a good stopping point for whatever coworker that would have to pick it up next week.

    1. Not Today Josephine*

      In many states, if you are an hourly workd and you show up for work they have to pay you for a set amount of hours even if they lay you off right away.

  27. Jester*

    I was working part-time when I got laid off due to COVID. The grand boss called me after office hours on a day I didn’t work. We were working remotely and had the work phone transferred to our cells and I could tell it was an office extension, but since they didn’t set up a meeting or even leave a message, I didn’t answer. They had to try again the next day…a day I was scheduled to work.

  28. lost academic*

    There’s no good time, so in my mind, having seen this handled various ways with acquaintances and in my own companies, the best thing to do is to tell people if they are let go as soon as it’s finalized. You obviously can’t do that beforehand, but there’s really no value in waiting and playing games with it otherwise.

  29. animaniactoo*

    Honestly, I feel like the real answer is, any time of the day is a bad day to get fired or laid off and it is a nice distraction to focus on how wrongly they did it rather than the fact that it happened at all.

    1. Sad Desk Salad)*

      That’s a good point, and probably why we fixate on the how rather than process our feelings about it.

      1. Despachito*

        I think that is because the process itself sucks in terms of timing and, let me say, human dignity.

        That a person who has been trusted until today, is suddenly treated as someone who would likely do serious harm to the company and must be prevented from doing this.

  30. squirreltooth*

    I’ve been through two layoffs, one first thing in the morning, which was humiliating because it was clear the other people in my (very small) department had been warning to come in a little later, so they knew about it before me. I got to spend the rest of the day feeling lost and at loose ends, crying in bed.

    The second time was later in the morning, but I had taken the day off so I could have a long weekend for my birthday. So even though they could have told me the layoff was coming days earlier, they chose to CALL ME on my day off to tell me the company was closing. Spending the rest of the day out of sorts and in a fog was awful, and the birthday was ruined.

    All in all, I’d probably prefer later in the day, if it’d have to happen. But there’s really no good option.

    1. Baby Yoda*

      Years ago my husband was called to a corporate meeting, flown to FL and put up in a hotel, along with all the other branch managers from around the country. Just to be told they were selling off the entire company (all branches). What a waste of time and money .. and it was a week before Christmas.

  31. Love to WFH*

    I was laid off in the early afternoon, and that worked out nicely for post-layoff activities. ;-)

    There was a new CEO, who had hired a new VP, and our department was miserable. The day before, my boss and I were talking about it, and she said “What’s the worst that can happen? They could fire us!” and we laughed.

    The next day they laid off her, and 3 of us. The HR manager talked to me first. She said that she’d like me to leave immediately and come back after work to get my things, so as not to upset people. I said there was no way I was coming back later — I’d take my belongings with me when I left. I suggested that I wait in the coffee shop downstairs until she’d talked to everyone, then come back up for my stuff. She agreed.

    When I came back up, the four of us were high-fived. My boss’ wife was on the way with a car, so we loaded our stuff up in her vehicle (we all took the bus to work), and drove to a bar.

    The rest of the department joined us shortly afterwards. It was nicely cathartic. It didn’t hurt that one of us had a call from a recruiter before we left the bar.

  32. Charlotte Lucas*

    Sometimes you have to think of how things will affect those left behind. A fellow trainer had a trainee who had to be fired for cause (so, so much cause!) at the end of the training period. He had to take the trainee to HR & be there while they discussed things.

    I had another training class also ending, so we combined them & I played a work trivia game with them. We were also having a potluck. So, we basically distracted a bunch of adults with games & food until it was time to join their units.

    I don’t remember that anyone asked where the other trainee was, but I got the feeling they knew. And I had gone home by the time the firing was over. (Iirc, it took about 3 hours.)

  33. Aphrodite*

    When I was fired from my insurance claims rep job–this was decades ago–I was fired as soon as I came in on a Friday morning. I think the woman who did it gave me the option to continue working the rest of the day or leave then. I began to go around to co-workers and say quick good-byes but after about four of them she came around to the cubicle area and LOUDLY said, “I don’t want you disturbing people trying to work.” I was so utterly, totally humilated that everyone heard. I went out with just a mumbled “okay.” It took all my effort not to burst into tears in the office.

    I was given my final pay. Even through my tears and sick feelings I knew to take care of things immediately. I deposited the check and went immediately to the unemployment office to file. By 3:00 pm I was home and standing on my patio looking out and feeling the tears and humiliation all over again. On Monday I happened to run into another co-worker who told me she had also been fired that day in the same manner, just at the end of the day.

    Interesting follow-up (for which I felt no grief): The woman who fired me was a nurse who acted as a kind of approval for whether we would pay medical claims for new procedures. She had been brought down from the larger office in Seattle and was the designated firing person. She was also inherently vicious and particuarly hated me, which may have been due to, or at least fueled by, her alcoholism. She was also having an affair with the male half of the couple who owned the company and gave their kids jobs. I did not grieve one iota when our state shut them down for fraud a couple of years later. But as I write this I feel a bit of that humiliation and pain again.

  34. Bernice Clifton*

    I guess I can see doing an in-person layoff or firing at the end of the day if you know the employee commutes via public transit or gets dropped off and picked up everyday, but that can be solved by paying for a cab or Uber.

  35. Elizabeth West*

    I’ve been laid off AND fired. Both times it was on Thursday, which gave me a day to file online for unemployment. With OldExjob, the layoff was due to position cuts; I wasn’t the only one and I did receive six weeks of severance. When Exjob fired me, I took it calmly but I made them stand there until I packed everything up because I didn’t trust them to send me all my stuff.

    There is no perfect time or day to do this. Like Alison says, it can vary depending on paperwork and manager availability, if there are any keys/equipment to turn in, or the situation with the employee.

    As an example of the last one, Exjob fired someone from Building 2 during the day and had to call the cops because he blew a gasket and made a threat. In a case like that, it might be better to do it when there aren’t too many folks in the office. But he could have done something so egregious they wanted him out right then. I never did find out what happened because no one would tell us. Both receptionists and their backups were instructed to call Facilities if he showed up—we had restricted access past the lobby but no dedicated security.

    Postscript: a few days later we discovered a bullet hole in one of the windows on my floor in Building 1. Maybe he drove by after hours and took a potshot. Or maybe it was random and we didn’t notice until then. Nobody knew. 0_0

  36. SarahAtHomeCA*

    I had one company pack my desk and deactivate my entry card while I was on vacation. I came back, couldn’t get in so went to security. I guess they hadn’t told them so they reset my card. Went to my desk to find someone else sitting in it with all my stuff in a box.

    Another company did it when I came back from lunch.

  37. Iroqdemic*

    I’ve been a middle manager who had to lay off an employee. And survived several rounds of layoffs. Usually, the time/date you find out is set way higher up the food chain than your direct supervisor. When I had to lay off one of my staff, I found out about an hour before we let her go. I honestly don’t remember what day of the week it was, but it was in the morning.
    Most of the layoffs since then have seemed to happen at the beginning of the day, because the rumor mill usually kicks up shortly thereafter as accesses are terminated and email addresses go dead. Not sure about day of the week there either, but it does seem to be at the beginning of a new quarter (so like in the first week of April at the start of the 2nd quarter). I’m guessing that’s shareholder type reasons.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      One company I worked for did reorgs every April. I think that was the start of their fiscal year – they were a retailer. Every year there were one or two people let go because their positions were eliminated. I got laid off in one of those.

  38. JR*

    One factor in day of the week can be the date – at one company where I worked (and maybe everywhere?), you had health insurance coverage for the rest of the month when you were laid off. So when there was a layoff in my department, my boss made a point to schedule it for the first of the month, whatever day of the week that was.

    1. Purple Cat*

      I thought this was a thing, but I just gave notice (granted, not a firing) and was told explicitly that my benefits end the last day I work, NOT the last day of the month.

      1. Wren*

        It is entirely up to your company policy. I’ve worked at different places that did it both ways.

      2. Agile Phalanges*

        My current employer told me that health insurance starts after 90 days. And it’s not actually 90 days from first month after you start. I started on the 20th, and my benefits started on the 20th. I’d had to go on Obamacare for a few months between the old job and the new one, so I was double-insured for a 10-day period because that plan was per calendar month. So I stocked up on as many medications as I could get the pharmacy to fill. :-)

    2. Tired of Working*

      I was let go five minutes before quitting time on a Friday which was the last day of the month. Meaning that after midnight I wouldn’t have health insurance. I mentioned this to the man who fired me, and he just laughed and laughed.

  39. irene adler*

    I had a night school classmate who had been fired that day. She’d been right in the middle of first article inspection and was called to the office. The layoff was completely out of left field.

    That night, she went on and on about all the tasks she wasn’t able to complete:
    “Someone better know that the measurements weren’t completed.”
    “What if someone doesn’t know what they are doing when they finish the piece I was measuring?”
    “The rule is that the tech has to sign the forms- I’m not there to do that-what are they gonna do? The auditors will catch that and someone will catch hell!”

    We all sympathized with her. But it got to the point that I looked her right in the eyes and said, “Those are not your concerns any more. They are no longer paying you to BE concerned with that work. You must let all this go. Look forward to your next position.”
    And she did bounce back quickly- with a better job than what she had! It was hard to let go though.

    1. irene adler*

      I should add, laying off people at the end of the day might mean less chance of an incomplete task. Most folks wrap-up tasks at the end of the day. But that’s based solely on my experience.

  40. New Jack Karyn*

    Many moons ago, I got fired from a coffee job. I was told to come into a meeting with my manager on a day I wasn’t scheduled to work. I got there early and tried to get my weekly free pound of beans–and it wouldn’t go through. The other barista said, “Now I feel awkward.” I replied, “I’m terminated; how do you think I feel?”

    My friends came over afterward to help me drown my sorrows; we called it our “F*&# Starbucks!” party.

    1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      OK, though, of all the ways to do it making someone come in on their day off to be fired is the only one I think is really over the line.

      1. Vito*

        I had an employer make me come in at 7PM to be fired. I worked 3rd shift and drive a half hour each way to find out that I was canned.
        I was laid off at a different company on a Monday, first thing in the morning. When I got out of the meeting and back to my desk, there was nobody around except the person they sent to walk me out. Good thing was hearing that my former boss was FIRED and ARRESTED for embezzlement within 6 months. the division I worked at has been SOLD twice since I was there

    2. Sad Desk Salad*

      They pulled the “take her off the schedule and get her to quit” to me, and it didn’t work (I quit later to take an internship). But later, after I returned out of desperation, I quit with no notice to take a better job, so from now on I will think of that act as retribution on behalf of New Jack Karyn.

      It took me SIX YEARS to finish up all those bags of beans, and I’m an avid coffee drinker.

  41. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    My husband and I worked for the same company. We happened to take vacation the same week the company came in Monday morning and laid off about 20% of the company.

    I had a lot of things pillaged from my desk because people thought I had been walked and hadn’t cleared out my office.

    This company did a lot of RIF’s and they tried beginning of the day, end of the day. Wednesday because that is when all the shifts overlapped. Pretty much it all sucks no matter what

  42. Recruited Recruiter*

    As a HR Person, who has regularly done the termination paperwork, and prepared the last check (required at termination in my state), it’s all about when the paperwork gets done. The last one that I did was for a felony committed on the clock on customer property. It was at the end of that day, because that was how long it took to get the customer’s statement, as well as the other witnesses statements, and process all the paperwork.

  43. Not So Super-visor*

    I guess that I’ve done it both ways. If there was a direct incident that caused the firing, like a safety concern or an outburst at another employee, I’d do it as soon as HR signed off on the paperwork. If the employee just wasn’t working out for performance reasons, I’d wait until closer to the end of the day so that there were less eyes on the employee. An added benefit to EOD, I could convince payroll to pay them for the rest of the day even if wasn’t the end of the employee’s shift. If it was earlier in the day, they wanted to know the exact minute that the employee was finished.

    My question on this is why did OP waste time going through everyone else’s calendar to verify that the meeting could have happened at other times? That seems really petty. Not to mention, just because the calendar isn’t blocked off doesn’t mean other things are going on. I know for a fact not to approach my director about something before at least 10:00 AM even if her calendar is clear because she comes in to a pile of urgent emails and messages.

  44. acl*

    The worst for me was 3 pm, on the day I returned from vacation.

    There’s backstory (isn’t there usually?) This was in the late 80’s. One of my bosses was very handsy, but I knew how to handle him to my own comfort level. Another younger employee was upset when he cornered her, and told me about it. I spoke to management, stupidly, in an attempt to help the company prevent a lawsuit, hoping they would talk to the guy and tell him to knock it off. I told management that I had no problem with him. Shortly after, I received a notice informing me that my work was unacceptable and that I had one month to improve. This was not that long after promotions and raises. This was also two weeks before I was scheduled to take my vacation, so really, I had two weeks to improve. And there was no indication on what improvement they wanted to see, what was wrong, and I wrote to them asking for clarification.

    No clarification came, the day before I was scheduled to leave I asked the big boss if we should talk now, or when I come back. He said “When you come back.” I then asked him, point blank, “Should I come back?” and he said yes. And then they fired me the day I returned. I was furious because this was my first trip to my now husband’s home country, where I would meet his people, and we would then see if we were going to move forward and get married, or not. I went into my handsy boss’s office, got on the phone and tried to book a ticket back to where my boyfriend was. Sadly, it was way too expensive. But I could have been enjoying a lovely Caribbean island with lovely people for an extended time if they had just been more honest about wanting to fire me.

    The first time I was laid off, due to company financial problems, was around noon on a Friday, right before the company’s in-house pre-New Year’s celebration. I left the meeting, went to the party for a while, then packed my stuff and left.

  45. acl*

    I posted this in the wrong place, so apologies for the duplicate, but it wasn’t intended to fall under someone else’s comment.

    The worst for me was 3 pm, on the day I returned from vacation.

    There’s backstory (isn’t there usually?) This was in the late 80’s. One of my bosses was very handsy, but I knew how to handle him to my own comfort level. Another younger employee was upset when he cornered her, and told me about it. I spoke to management, stupidly, in an attempt to help the company prevent a lawsuit, hoping they would talk to the guy and tell him to knock it off. I told management that I had no problem with him. Shortly after, I received a notice informing me that my work was unacceptable and that I had one month to improve. This was not that long after promotions and raises. This was also two weeks before I was scheduled to take my vacation, so really, I had two weeks to improve. And there was no indication on what improvement they wanted to see, what was wrong, and I wrote to them asking for clarification.

    No clarification came, the day before I was scheduled to leave I asked the big boss if we should talk now, or when I come back. He said “When you come back.” I then asked him, point blank, “Should I come back?” and he said yes. And then they fired me the day I returned. I was furious because this was my first trip to my now husband’s home country, where I would meet his people, and we would then see if we were going to move forward and get married, or not. I went into my handsy boss’s office, got on the phone and tried to book a ticket back to where my boyfriend was. Sadly, it was way too expensive. But I could have been enjoying a lovely Caribbean island with lovely people for an extended time if they had just been more honest about wanting to fire me.

    The first time I was laid off, due to company financial problems, was around noon on a Friday, right before the company’s in-house pre-New Year’s celebration. I left the meeting, went to the party for a while, then packed my stuff and left.

  46. Bethie*

    Right now we are full time work from home so the one person I’ve had to fire we just called them that morning and told them. It was right before Thanksgiving and the former employee texted me that she “hoped I choked on my turkey and died”. So probably for the best we weren’t in the office.

    But back when I was new and we were still in the office, my director asked that everyone go to the cafetoria for a break. I was like “WHY? Why? What’s going on?” Over and over til my supervisor was like “Get in the elevator!”. We passed the HR lady with a box and it hit me. Someone was being fired and my director wanted us all out of the office so it wouldn’t be embarrassing. But I still remember being like “WHY?!” Really loudly.

  47. JAnon*

    I was laid off once, late in the day on a Friday. All day my boss was weird and kept asking about the work for one of the designers I supervised so I assumed we were letting him go bc we lost his client and I really did a lot of work to move things around and prep for that. Then that designer was called down and then left so when I was called down I was all ready to say I had everything squared away. Until I was pulled into a different room with HR and was let go as well. Do not do that to people. Be more or less obvious with what is going on. And this was about 4:00 on a Friday, so it was weird for me to leave and uncomfortable for me to be there until others left so I could pack up in peace. I ended up leaving for a bit so my boss could tell people and I went back after people had left. If you are going to let someone go at a certain time for a reason, please have a plan for them to gracefully exit so they don’t have to figure it out after you just blew their life up.

  48. Spicy Tuna*

    One of my friends was put on a PIP. During the PIP, she was given a large project to work on. At the end of the PIP, she was still working on the project, and her boss didn’t say anything to her regarding the PIP, continued employment, etc. Instead, two weeks (or more!) later, when the project was completed, the boss let her go. Even worse, the company was laying off people in general, but the boss specifically fired her for cause so she wouldn’t get severance like everyone else that was let go.

    The boss had a big problem with my friend – the issues were mostly personality related, not performance. The good ending is that the industry was fairly small and the boss was notorious for being difficult. A few years later, something happened where the boss ended up flaming out in a spectacular manner.

  49. JustAnotherKate*

    I was on a team that was laid off along with another team (11 people total) and the timing/process was WEIRD. On Friday afternoon, the CEO convened a virtual meeting and said layoffs were coming. She didn’t say who, when, or why, so we all got to spend the weekend wondering. I actually didn’t think it would be me; I had a unique role and had just had a strong review. But, mid-day Monday the HR person pulled me out of a meeting, walked me through the cube farm with everyone staring, and brought me into a room with the CEO who informed me I was being laid off with a 30-day notice period. She then said it wasn’t performance-related and invited me to apply as a contract employee if I still wanted to work there. (So, the same crappy job with no benefits. No thanks!) They pulled in the others throughout the day and it was super awkward seeing who else got marched through the cubicles. Probably more so for the people who weren’t laid off, but I wouldn’t know! I wasn’t devastated, but I did apply for a million jobs to get out of there ASAP; it was helpful that they gave us a long notice period, but I got sick of being stared at like “dead woman walking.”

  50. Raine*

    I have been let go all of two times in my life: once happened at the beginning of the day, and once happened at the end of the day. I can say with certainty that I appreciated the former much more, because I got to leave and process on my own time instead of stewing in anxiety all day. The second time was infuriating, mostly because I spent the entire day *training my successors*. I’d figured it out pretty early on and made sure that the trainees were aware of what was happening – and sure enough, five minutes before the end of the day, I was pulled aside and let go on fabricated charges (that place was terribly dysfunctional, I was much better leaving anyway). So in the end, I’ve got more respect for the place that let me punch in and then sent me home – it was way more honest.

  51. Awful Timing*

    I had to let someone go at what has to have been the absolute worst possible time. She had made a very inappropriate comment to a customer on a recorded line, plus she had been on a PIP for behavior prior to that. Anyway… she had come in late that day because she wasn’t feeling well (I’d like to note, I did not encourage her to or insist she come in, but I did feel awful I couldn’t just do it over the phone) and I had to pull her into a meeting with HR and myself midday. Normally, I would have probably tried to wait until the next day but we were all traveling as a team across the country and obviously we needed her to not be on that trip. It as absolutely awful and I hated it but I guess it had to happen some time.

    1. Awful Timing*

      Forgot to mention is was literally my 4th day of being a manager under a new boss sooooo yep. Fun times lol

  52. sarah*

    The only time I got laid off it was via text message in the middle of the night. (It was a UK company but I was working remote from the US, so working hours for them, but not for me.) So I literally woke up, rolled over to check my phone, and saw the news.

    I would not recommend doing it this way.

  53. merida*

    Two people on my team recently have been fired. One happened at about 10 am, the other about noon. There’s never a *good* time of course, though it is unsettling to have a meeting at 10 am hearing that your boss is fired, knowing that you had a long list of things to ask her at a meeting that is scheduled for that afternoon that she will no longer be attending.

  54. The Spreadsheet*

    A dysfunctional place that I worked at years ago handled it quite badly.
    They announced in the morning that there would be redundancies (I’m in the UK). The plan was that we would each have a one-on-one meeting in which we would find out if we were staying or going. The meetings were to be scheduled throughout the day.

    An email duly arrived with the schedule of meetings in the form of a spreadsheet. Everyone looked at it to see what time their meeting was going to be (I think mine was mid afternoon). Then a cry went around our open plan office, “Look at sheet 2!”.

    Turns out that sheet 2 of the schedule spreadsheet contained the actual list of people who were being made redundant. My name was not on sheet 2 so I could relax but there was total chaos as people found out their status in quite a brutal and public fashion.

    There was a meek apology email shortly after and the daily meetings (now completely pointless) were all cancelled.
    Never did find out if it was gross incompetence or some deliberate tactic.

    1. Martin*

      “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence”.
      (One of my favourite quotes)

  55. RinaL*

    If you have to fire a scientist, please fire him at the beginn of a day. I was let go twice in the middle of an experiment- for me that a sign, that my work is not considered important for my employer and it is extremly difficult to quickly coach a fellow scientist, how to finish what you have started after you received the bad news!

    On one of the two occasions, it was a very critical, potentially harmful experiment where people really could have suffered from the fallout if the damn thing was left unsupervised. Bad idea to fire me in the middle of it!!

  56. My Useless 2 Cents*

    I heard long ago, that one of the reasons to do firings end of day was to get the company’s “money worth”. I’m surprised that what I thought was one of the most cold-hearted reasons hasn’t been mentioned but maybe it’s just part of the “HR paperwork”??? As it was explained to me, when an employee is fired, the company is required to pay hours worked on the spot and since once employee clocks in that morning they have to include that time in the final check. If they fire someone first thing in the morning, they are going to have to pay for at least an hour that isn’t worked. But if they fire someone at the end of the day, the final check includes last day of work and they can schedule the firing as close to the end of day as they can get, therefore squeezing as much work out of the employee as possible (especially if the employee doesn’t see it coming). A cold-hearted and penny pinching theory… yes. But I’ve always wondered if there was a grain of truth to it.

    1. Colette*

      That doesn’t seem plausible. They can decide when to do the firing/layoff, so how much of the day they pay for is under their control. And the whole day will always be more than an hour in the morning.

    2. Sad Desk Salad*

      Cold hearted, penny pinching?! In OUR capitalist system? Well, I never! *clutches pearls, faints*

      I’m not mocking you–my cynical side wholeheartedly agrees with you. I’m just not surprised.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        I generally think people are good-hearted and most managers try to make the process as easy as possible but my cynical side just can’t help thinking that this sounds like something a faceless corporate yes man thought was brilliant. Even though an hour of lost “work” would be a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things.

    3. Tired of Working*

      I bet that a lot of companies want to get their money’s worth. I’ve been at companies where employees were fired or laid off at the end of the day on payday (which might be Friday or might be the 15th of the month or the last day of the month).

  57. KatieP*

    I’ve been fired once, but that was 25 years ago, and I only remember that it was after lunch. Don’t recall what day of the week. My husband got laid off once, but he hated that job so much that he was sticking around just to spite his boss. For about three years he told me, “They’re trying to make me quit so they won’t have to pay unemployment, but the joke’s on them. I’m more stubborn, so I’m going to make them pay a severance package to get rid of me.” When they laid him off, that was the happiest I’d seen him in a loooooong time.

    It was a pretty hefty severance package because he’d been there 14 years.

    1. Purple Cat*

      My company was sold and due to circumstances it was publicly announced we were up for sale, and then buyers were recruited and then sold. So quite a while passed from “for sale” to “sold”. So many people asked if I was going to start looking for a new job. I said no because after double-digit years with the company, I’d likely get a SWEET severance package. (un)Fortunately new owners didn’t lay anybody off. I was really looking forward to that time off.

  58. LeisureSuitLarry*

    The time I got fired they did it first thing Friday morning. I came in, sat down, and within 10 minutes the boss was at my desk asking me to join him in the conference room. When I got there the HR person was there and I knew what was up. He went through his script and only deviated when I said “wait, are you FIRING me?”. He said yes, I said okay. I grabbed my stuff and left. A bit of a shock, but I thought I’d bounce back pretty quick. It turned out to be an 8 month vacation.

  59. BatManDan*

    As an adult, only had one job (the rest of the 34 years as an adult, I’ve been self-employed). Got fired via phone call from HQ (I was a field sales rep, there was no office nor even anybody that worked for the company within 400 miles of me) at 10:30am on Monday. Wish it had happened at 7am – I had already driven three hours to take a client to lunch. I politely told the HR rep that called me that for field reps, earlier in the day was better for exactly that reason. (I also asked her why I’d been fired, and when she gave me the purported reason, I gave her proof that she had been lied to about why I got fired – I think it was an eye-opener for her to realize what sort of people she was working for. Prologue: they are out of business now – any surprises?)

  60. DBA*

    I was fired via voicemail. The message was left at 5:45PM on Friday afternoon, while I was at my first appointment with a new psychiatrist. So maybe that was inadvertently good timing? It almost goes without saying that they took months to send me my personal stuff.

  61. Luna*

    The last two times I was laid off, the first one was done as soon as I got in for my late shift and I had to work the rest of the week and the next week was my pre-approved vacation, rounding out the two week notice period. The other time, I was also informed as soon as I stepped into the place for my late shift, but I was informed to just go home and not have to work any more shifts. (Which was good because being made to work nightshifts after being let go? Would be very hard for me to keep my professional mask up. Especially since at the second place, I DIDN’T know I was even remotely close to losing my job. It came out of left field!)

    So, my own experience is it occuring as soon as I came in for the day, not at the end.

  62. Anon for this one*

    Even though the letter conflates the two, I think there are different considerations between individual firings and larger-scale layoffs. For the former, there’s likely to be some degree of flexibility (and I’ve generally seen people let go on Friday mornings when possible, as a way to avoid “why did you try to squeeze one last day out of me” and to give the affected person the weekend to cool off) – for the latter (I’ve been at two different companies with multiple rounds of large-scale layoffs, though I was never personally affected) there are issues around availability of HR personnel and conference rooms meaning that the notifications usually took place throughout a day.

    I was once let go because the project I was on was moved to a different office, so somewhere in between the two situations, and I was notified mid-morning on a Friday. (This was a tech startup, so it’s quite possible that “mid-morning” was the earliest availability for some people involved.)

  63. Purple Cat*

    A friend’s company did a round of layoffs by scheduling 2 meetings at the start of the day. One group was told *about* the layoffs, the other group was laid off. It was awkward when people came in and chatted “oh, you’re in Conference Room B” and they responded, “No, A” and then people figured out what was up.

  64. Middle Aged Lady*

    My healthy workplaces did at at different times and it was never a surprise. People knew when their jobs were in jeopardy: PIPs, write-ups, etc. At the bad job, they did it late on Friday to keep the employee from talking to anyone about the blindsided horrible way they did it. And so, on Monday, they could call is all in a meeting say ‘x was a problem’ and remind us to ‘be loyal’ then pretend that person never existed. Two people got fired and I didn’t know for a week because I was in vacation during the threatening personal meeting with the whole staff of twenty. They liked to give that news in person to watch our reactions.

  65. Pisces*

    This wasn’t about time of day, but a large firm scheduled staff layoffs for a day their head office was hit by a major blizzard, if not the worst in the city’s history.

    They went through with the layoffs as scheduled.

  66. Nupalie*

    To those who think “how” the termination happens doesn’t have much impact..
    I worked for a fortune 100 which held a sitewide meeting for 400 employees with a 30 minute speech about tough economic times. As everyone filed out, 40 were met at the auditorium door by their manager(s) with the contents of each employees top desk drawer in a cardboard box…and escorted out by Pinkerton security guards. Your lunch? Forget it. Something in a different drawer? Forget it. Your coat? Forget it. You don’t have a ride home for the next 2 hours (public transit – this was NY/NJ area)? Forget it.
    No discussion, just “you’ve been made redundant please walk this way”.
    Employees could make appointments in 5-7 days to retrieve items and discuss severance.
    Same co had 4 consecutive downsizings over 6 years at a Midwest location. Lose 10-15 percent of management on a “Black Friday” each time. We’d all just refuse to answer our phones on Friday afternoon once we found out it was another downsizing day. Then Monday – no notifications. We ‘d never hear their names again. No updated org charts, customers or internal clients would call and ask for one of the “disappeared”
    And all the info we had to offer was ‘they don’t work here anymore and I haven’t been told who is handling their duties’.

  67. David Levenson*

    I was told of the end of my job at 8:06 a.m. on a Monday. Usually these things were done on Thursdays around 3 p.m. and the person was immediately walked out. I made it known for years that if they decided to let me go I’d rather be called at home and told than walked out like a perp, no hard feelings. So, I got 8 weeks notice. It was respectful in both directions and 10 years later I still appreciate it.

  68. Irish Teacher*

    One thing I’ve noticed is how SUDDEN all these lay-offs and firings are. When I was fired, I was given a week’s notice.

    1. Lead Balloon*

      Depends on location I think? If you work somewhere that only allows employers to fire people for a reason, then most people will have a notice period for a layoff/redundancy and will keep working through the notice period.

      Only if the circumstances are serious (e.g. misconduct) do people disappear immediately. Or if the company is concerned that there’s a risk the employee might cause damage if they continued to work their notice period, in which case they’d pay in lieu of notice.

      Some notice periods can be fairly long – mine was 8 weeks when I was made redundant. Though if you were owed holiday you’d have to take it during this time.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, that makes sense and yeah, of course misconduct is somewhat different. If somebody is stealing or bullying coworkers, it makes sense to get rid of them immediately. But some of the stories here sound horrific, where people weren’t allowed to finish something they were in the middle of or were treated like they were under suspicion for something when it appears to have been a layoff.

      2. Glen*

        Wow, they definitely can’t force you to take leave during your notice period here, that would be incredibly inappropriate! Glad I got to keep all of mine when I was made redundant.

  69. devtoo*

    My whole satellite office was laid off in May 2020 and I think the company was especially humane about it. Company-wide announcement made midday after a holiday weekend, and our termination date was at the end of the week so we basically could openly job search on the company’s time while having time to exchange contact info with coworkers, network, exchange tips about applying for unemployment, etc. They also gave us a good severance and let us keep our laptops.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      Yeah, when I got laid off after a reorg, I had been planning to buy one of the depreciated laptops. So I turned in my laptop, then the next day I stopped by and one of my former coworkers gave me a depreciated laptop that had been properly wiped. Funny, he forgot to collect any money for it… (Yes, I had the money, he refused it.) Of course that layoff was in the middle of a recession, and I was out of work for over a year.

  70. Agile Phalanges*

    I was part of a mass layoff when they closed the entire corporate office (to move it within one of the other locations–it had been a separate facility). I was traveling (to one of the other locations, but not the one it was moving to), so instead of being part of the large group meeting the CEO held in person with Q&A after, my poor boss had to call me and tell me herself.

    In the end, though, I feel like those at the office all had a big ol’ bitch session about it, whereas I had time to ruminate on it myself. And sure, it always sucks to lose a job, but it was the right business decision for the company, and they were very generous–we had six MONTHS of notice, severance regardless when we left, stay bonus if we stayed till the end, help with job searching, and of course permission to job-search on company time (and for managers to give references). Pretty much everyone that wanted to had another job by the end, and those that wanted the stay bonus got it, and the company had the help they needed to finalize things. I enjoyed that job, and wished it could’ve lasted longer (I’d only just switched into a new role the year before, so not enough experience to really job-hunt in that new field, plus there weren’t a lot of similar jobs in the geographical area), but they did right by the employees, I feel. I actually have no idea what time the company-wide meeting was held, but guessing first thing in the morning, because my boss called me around 8:30. Can’t remember what day of the week it was, though.

  71. GrammyA*

    When I was fired the supervisor met me at the elevator when I was coming in for the workday. She escorted me to a conference room and then went to get her boss, and then I realized I was being fired. The manager came in, and HR was conferenced in, it was handled very civilly. I was not allowed to go to my desk, they would courier my stuff to me by the end of the week. I never saw any of my team, it was all over in less than 30 minutes. My main regret was wasting the gas to get there that day.

  72. Audiophile*

    I’ve been laid off at the beginning, middle, and end of a workday. I’d say the middle was probably the worst.

    I had just finished a conference call for a major project and was getting ready to eat lunch. A senior leader from a different department came by my office and asked me to meet him at an HR conference. He then doubled back to say I could finish my lunch first if I wanted. That was enough of a clue, so I promptly followed him.

    If at all possible, try to avoid laying people off in the middle of the day. It made going home more difficult because public transportation isn’t as frequent between morning and afternoon rush hour.

    1. voyager1*

      I worked in banking. Seen people let got the last working day of Dec many times in mergers.

    2. Waving not Drowning*

      my husband was once laid off 2 weeks before Christmas a few years back, and it was … not good. There is no good time to do it, but that timing particularly sucked! Job hunting when his industry traditionally closed down for a month at Christmas (tradie, based in the southern hemisphere) was impossible.

    3. Media Monkey*

      my husband’s old company used to lay people off the week before the christmas party every year. so the party would be on a saturday in early december, spouses included, and a load of people would have been laid off a few days before (and of course univnvited to the party they had possibly bought a dress/ rented a dinner suit/ organised overnight childcare or a babysitter for)

  73. 653-CXK*

    When I was let go from ExJob in May 2018, it was a Tuesday morning. I had just arrived at the office to sit in my reserved hoteling seat, and hastily scrambled to reserve a new one. About an hour and a half later, my supervisor tapped me on the shoulder and told me to come downstairs. My manager and a representative were waiting for me in a small room, and the manager dropped the news, and I collected my final paycheck and directions on how to collect COBRA (yeah right!). I went back to my area to collect my bag (which would now be sans laptop), hugged my supervisor, and then went to the bank to deposit my final check.

    ExJob was already pretty toxic, so I felt liberated more than sad to leave a company after 21 years.

  74. Naked If Cape Ability*

    I agree with everyone who says there’s no good time, but I don’t think it’s necessarily clear to a boss that employees would take a scheduled meeting to mean that someone will be fired, including the affected employee. Even if there are known performance problems, the meeting could be to discuss training or shifting job duties around. Also, just because their calendars appeared free earlier doesn’t mean that they actually were. At least at my work, calendars show scheduled meetings, not work we may be tied up with. I had zero meetings today but would have had trouble fitting a new one in and still getting my work done.

    1. Blue Horizon*

      I have had meetings just like that which didn’t turn out to be firing – in one case the CEO and COO just wanted my views on something (put it in the damn agenda next time!)

      Having said that, most companies have a standard way of doing it, and if you work at one during a difficult period and experience multiple rounds of layoffs, you get to recognize it pretty quickly. At a previous employer we learned that they liked to do an all staff meeting late in the day, with the affected employees in a separate room, and we would all figure out who was in which group within minutes of the invitation being sent.

      1. Naked If Cape Ability*

        Yes, for those kinds of situations, I’d agree. I take “fired” to mean let go for cause, and something different from part of a wave of layoffs. I think the higher-ups should use different techniques for the two in lots of respects.

  75. Sir This Is A Denny's*

    For me, I chose to leave the company (accepted a better job). But I gave two week’s notice, and the next morning at our 7am meeting my then-boss announced my departure and then said, “actually I think it’d be better if today was your last day” and gave me a few minutes to collect my items from my desk and leave. I was caught by surprise and, since I was an hourly contractor, I didn’t get paid for those two weeks. I chuckle about it now, but back then I was stunned to have such an announcement in front of my entire team first thing in the morning.

  76. Waving not Drowning*

    I’ve been laid off twice – once told first thing in the morning, and the other last thing at the end of the day.

    The one at the end of the day was interesting – I had suspected my role was going to be abolished – we had to do weekly sheets on what we did and how long it took us, and my role could be done by anyone. I’d said to my husband the night before it happened that I didn’t think I’d have a job for much longer, and was expecting to be tapped on the shoulder in the coming weeks – it did take me by surprise the timing, but yeah, it smacked of getting the last hour of work out for the time we pay you. They laid someone off 30 mins before me, and it was at the end of her shift as well. It sucked!!!

    The one at the beginning of the day was on the other hand “nicer”. I got to work, there had been a big meeting the day before about a restructure (boss didn’t call me in on my day off, because he didn’t want to give me the bad news on my day off). I got called into a meeting with HR and GM, I said this doesn’t look good…. and they said that my position had been abolished by Head Office, they didn’t agree, they’d tried to fight it, but no luck (HR person was also abolished, with their role being handled by a central HR pool). They told me to take the rest of the day off with full pay, and when I said I was going out for lunch with my husband (he had an RDO) they paid for lunch. HR gave me support in getting my resume up to date and interview tips. I got to serve out 4 weeks of work, and got a nice redundancy payment at the end of it. Head office was shocked that I didn’t take them up on the offer of redeployment to another branch (yeah, I’m going to uproot my family of 4 kids – including 18 month old twins – and husband with full time well paying job to take up a part time job in another state with no family support).

    I was downsized once (taken from full time to part time) once, and that one hurt. Got called into a meeting at the end of the day on a Friday – the last day of working before I went on 2 weeks leave with my dream holiday – and given 2 weeks notice that when I returned I would be part time. That was so badly badly badly handled, I left within 3 months .

  77. Uhhh*

    Every time I have been on the receiving end of a layoff or termination it was on a Friday, either at lunch or end of the day. So anytime I have a meeting with a boss or HR on a Friday I have major anxiety. Unfortunately if the company is having struggles I spend Friday anxious, since the line of work I’m in is often scapegoated, and not a single time was the separation performance related (one was 2wks after getting a raise, another was right after exceeded my performance goals by more than +100%)

  78. Thatwasawkward*

    I once worked with a woman who was laid off on Monday morning as part of a massive restructuring and the company had decided to pay all laid off employees through the end of the week. She came out of the office, told me she was let go, and then proceeded to go back to work. Our manager had to tell her that once you have been let go from a job the company doesn’t expect you to keep working and she could go home.

  79. Meow*

    I was called into a “quick meeting” and then “asked to resign” (aka, resign or your fired) at 8:30 on a Thursday morning, shortly after giving a presentation with the CEO to a community group, where a picture was taken for the local paper. That was quite surprising.

  80. Katie G*

    I termed two people this morning because I ran out of time yesterday after our investigation was finished. That being said, I prefer the end of the day, because it does give them a chance to walk out without coworkers present and hopefully give them a little dignity. I also try to know if someone drives themselves or rides with someone else – another good reason to do it at the end of the day.

    I don’t send meeting requests though. I go find the person and bring them to my office. If it was a remote position, I would probably just handle it whenever I felt would best benefit that person and ensure we received our property back.
    On a side note, I hate when people say, you sure made sure to get a whole day’s work from me. No, we made sure to give you a full day’s pay.

    Hope this helps.

  81. K8E*

    When I was working as a receptionist around 2015, I came in to work on a Thursday to find out an employee had surreptitiously gotten wasted via our beer fridge and tried to attack one of our accountants a bit after I had left the night before. The company hired a freelance security specialist who repositioned our reception area couch so if the guy came back, he wouldn’t see the guard there and there would be more opportunity to subdue him. (Which was very unnerving, but the security specialist and I got to chatting and he was one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met!)

    I don’t love the Friday afternoon etiquette for layoffs, but I can see why they make sense for in-office safety reasons if someone’s fired for conduct issues.

  82. StitchIsMySpiritAnimal*

    I think the worst way to lose your job is probably when the business just closes up overnight – the employees turn up for work to find locked doors, a notice on the window, and no one to contact. Never experienced it personally, but the stories always make me wince.

  83. Cookie*

    I got laid off during the lunch hour. It was a very small publishing office – about ten people altogether. The publisher and her #2 who actually did all the work just called me into their office for a quick meeting, and in the meeting they said we’re laying you off, budget reasons blah blah blah. (I wasn’t surprised – they definitely couldn’t afford even my modest pay.) I hadn’t been there long and I had hated every minute of it. I replied, “Can I just finish my lunch first and then go?” They were surprised, but said yes. I went back to my desk, ate my soup, washed and packed the bowl, and walked out of there with a song in my heart. So glad they didn’t make me wait until the end of the day.

  84. Darcy*

    Worked for a Fortune 50 company that was shedding employees to boost their stock price. Rather than lay off 500 people in one day (and have to deal with WARN laws and heavy local publicity) they laid off small groups every week for about three months. Rather than do all layoffs in a department and then move to the next, they’d pull a handful from different departments every week. AND it was always done on Tuesday morning, which of course became known as Termination Tuesday. Needless to say, very little work got done on Tuesdays until later in the afternoon once people knew who’d gotten the axe that week.

  85. Oska*

    I knew I had read “fire people at the end of the day/week” as advice once. Turns out that it was from The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker. Of course, he is talking in the context of employees you suspect might react VERY badly to being fired, but maybe it has spread as general advice:

    “A firing should take place without notice, at the end of the day, while other employees are departing.
    This way, when the meeting is over, the fired employee cannot immediately seek out those he feels
    are responsible. Further, he will then be going home at the same time as usual as opposed to finding
    himself home on a weekday morning, for example. I suggest firing at the end of the work week. If
    fired on a Friday, he has the weekend off as usual so he doesn’t feel the impact of having no place to
    go the next morning. Unlike on a weekday, he will not awaken with the knowledge that his former co-
    workers are at the job (and possibly discussing him). He won’t have the experience of everything
    being different from usual, different shows on TV, familiar people not at home, etc. Though some
    believe that firing on a weekday is advisable, I find it makes possible targets of aggression available
    to him at work while he is still at a point of high emotion.”

  86. Polly Hedron*

    My former workplace had a layoff on April 1. Many victims took it as a joke. They took one up the chain from boss to boss until the great-grandboss confirmed the layoff. Only then did the victim believe he was out of a job.

  87. thelettermegan*

    having received the vague meeting request email twice, I’m inclined to say that when it appears, go ahead and finish up whatever you’re working on, zhuzh up your documentation, clean up your desk, and reach out to your buddies for contact information. You don’t owe the company anything.

  88. Helen B*

    There may not be good days to lay people off, but April 1st is most definitely a bad day. My company did that during one round of layoffs because it was the beginning of a quarter.

  89. SpiderWort*

    I once worked at a company that was doing a fairly big layoff. They had all meetings cancelled for the day so we were all sitting at our desks (this was pre-remote work). They set up a couple of meeting rooms with HR and the site leadership, and they started calling people at their desk phone, to come up to the meeting room and find out they were being laid off. They would walk people out directly, sending someone to their desk to pick up the basics (wallets, keys, whatever) and arranging a time outside office hours over the next couple of days that they could come back to pack up any personal items.
    Every time a phone rang we all jumped for the whole day. It was crazy stressful. The guy who sat in the desk next to mine, his wife called his desk three times that day and he was about ready to lose it the third time she called.

  90. Re'lar Fela*

    I’ve been fired (or, rather, “given the option to resign”) multiple times in my career (#ADHDLife). Once was first thing in the morning on a Monday, which was awful (I had a new job by that Friday, though, which paid more and was more aligned with my goals, so that was cool). Another time was in a 28 second phone call around 3pm on a Wednesday (that was super weird, especially given that I was on my way to a doctor’s office for an appointment that ultimately resulted in emergency surgery…and then they gave me my job back haha). The last time was first thing in the morning sometime in the middle of the week (maybe a Tuesday or Thursday?) and they gave me the option to leave immediately, but I stayed until 3 or 4pm finishing up projects, documenting processes, and cleaning out my office.

    Being fired (or asked to resign) SUCKS and I don’t think there’s any particularly good time of day or day of the week to do it. In both my cases (the true *let’s have a meeting at X time* not the random phone call), I think the timing had to do with allowing ample time to tie up loose ends and deal with the fallout (both were relatively important, semi-high profile positions which required communicating my departure to internal and external stakeholders for transition purposes).

    Anyway, I used to be super embarrassed by this history, but then I got my ADHD diagnosis and learned more about it and I completely understand how and why I got there and have taken ownership of that. It’s amazing what stepping out of the victim mentality will do (unsolicited tangent–sorry).

    PS I’ve been at my current job for almost a year (it’ll be a year in August) and while there have definitely been some growing pains (including a PIP which I shared about in a Friday open thread a while back), things are actually going incredibly well now and I’ve taken on additional responsibilities and received a lot of positive feedback. I’m genuinely looking forward to my performance review next week (which is super weird, but nice).

  91. Anonny non*

    I was fired once, and they made me change my schedule to come in on my day off to do it. I told them I had a doctor’s appointment at 9am that day. They said I had to come in. So I cancel my appointment, go into work for a 9am start. They call me into my supervisor’s office and fire me first thing.

    Later, I found out they had already canceled my health insurance at the end of the previous month, without telling me. This was pre-Obamacare, so I couldn’t buy my own insurance. They fought unemployment but ended up forced to pay.

  92. Anon for this post*

    I was fired once, and they made me change my schedule to come in on my day off to do it. I told them I had a doctor’s appointment at 9am that day. They said I had to come in. So I cancel my appointment, go into work for a 9am start. They call me into my supervisor’s office and fire me first thing.

    Later, I found out they had already canceled my health insurance at the end of the previous month, without telling me. This was pre-Obamacare, so I couldn’t buy my own insurance. They fought unemployment but ended up forced to pay.

  93. Coffee Please*

    I just terminated someone and did it the day after a 3-day weekend (I didn’t want to ruin their weekend) and also in the morning during our scheduled 1:1 time. They were paid for the entire day though. We did it in a room with direct access to the parking lot and I grabbed their keys and lunch and ushered them out the door immediately after. They came by to grab their things in our open concept office in the evening. Personally I wanted to get it done early in the week to get it over with. It was warranted but still awful.

  94. HR- Damn you people! I'm leaving.*

    I’ve handled most the Corp terminations the past 11 years and we don’t have a standard time or date to do it.
    As AAM says is common, it’s HR finalizing the paperwork, PTO payoff, COBRA info, UI info, severance, researching what has been issued, (phone, laptop, keys, badge, etc).

  95. JayReal*

    I was fired from a job where my boss called me at 1pm to ask what time I worked till (we all had different schedules). I told him 3pm and he told me to stop in the HR conference room before I left for the day. There is NO other reason for that request then to fire or lay you off. I had my desk packed up by that time so at least there was that. And this happened 3 weeks after I was give a glowing review. But I am a female and it was a male dominated company (think old white guy manufacturing environment). They fired 5 people that well and 4 were females.

  96. missing the point?*

    isn’t the problem not the timing but that the only-one-possible-meaning-meeting was scheduled at the beginning of the day, so the person had to spend the day knowing it was coming?

  97. Flash Packet*

    The 2nd time I was laid off was during lunch.

    But it was after I’d purchased the not-inexpensive steak plate from the cafeteria downstairs and had taken it to my desk so I could eat and work at the same time, and my boss wouldn’t let me finish eating my lunch. I was like, “Dude, that’s $20 worth of really good food! Let me at least take it into an empty conference room, if you’re worried about me doing something nefarious before I get walked out of the building. You can come sit with me.”

    Nope. I was handed a roll cart and told to hurry up and pack my things.

    Still boils my blood and that was over a decade ago.

  98. Flash Packet*

    Just remembered that during the layoffs after the Dot Com Bust, the VP of Sales for the company I was at made one of the west coast software engineers (who had written most of our company’s eCommerce software) fly to corporate in North Carolina on an overnight flight for an “emergency” 8:00 AM meeting… where HR was sitting with the VP and they said, “Thanks for coming on such short notice. Please hand over your laptop and badge.” Then they sent him on his way without a return flight ticket because, lol, he wasn’t an employee anymore so why would they pay for his flight?

    That guy called all the rest of us as soon as he left the building, so we all knew what was up when the VP of Sales said he was going to be flying into our areas and we were required to meet him at the airport. He spent an entire day flying to multiple airports across the U.S. just to fire people and collect their laptops.

    I was on crutches with a newly-repaired shattered ankle but I had to drive all the way out to the airport, about an hour from my house, and hobble into one of the terminals. I asked him face-to-face if they could continue my health insurance for at least a couple more months because I had some more follow-up visits scheduled with the ortho doc. Thankfully, he said yes.

  99. Nerfmobile*

    My worst layoff story! This was 2007 – housing bust, recession, etc. I worked for a huge multinational tech-related company, and they announced mid-summer that they were going to be doing a layoff of about 10% of the company – to happen in the fall. That’s a bit big undertaking to plan. So everyone was on tenterhooks for the next 3 months while managers conducted “skills assessments” for their teams and compared them to job requirements, blah blah blah. I was pretty sure I was on thin ice as I had been hired to bring a newly important skill to my team, which wasn’t actually in the official description for my role.

    Come the designated month – they decided that everyone would have a face-to face meeting with their manager, and be told if they were staying or going. Because we had many people who reported into remote managers (like me), each site had a designated day for those meetings. Remote managers would fly into a site on that day, so everyone in that site would be told on the same day. So, the actual communications period lasted about two weeks, which meant rolling waves of “did you hear about so-and-so” as different sites were told and the news of who was affected made it’s way across teams.

    My location’s day was in the second week. And that morning, my manager woke up sick and decided she was unable to travel. She had three direct reports at my site, so she sent us emails that our meetings would be by phone call after all. Our meeting times were originally in the afternoon, but mid-morning she sent IM messages to the other two people and had brief (literally 5 minute) calls with them, which they came bouncing out of quite relieved. She did not ping me to do the same. After another half hour or so, I saw she was online and sent her a message that I too was available now if she wanted to talk. She wrote back that she wasn’t feeling well again (I could imagine the fake coughing) and would go lie down, she’d talk at our original time, and promptly logged off. Well, message received. By that time, everyone else on my larger team at our site had also had their conversations, (All well for them). So they started being very kind to me. We all went to lunch together (unusual for us) and they made kind and awkward conversation. I begged off after lunch to go take a walk and kill time til my meeting at 2pm.

    So finally my time rolled around and I went into the (previously scheduled) meeting room, to be greeted by a much senior executive who was the closest person to my chain of commmand on-site, who officially notified me and gave me all the paperwork and such. He was clearly annoyed at having been roped into rearranging his schedule and having to be doing this himself, and I was mad at my manager too, so it was a pretty stilted conversation. They were offering decent packages, so that made the sting a bit easier.

    It’s funny, 15 years later and I’m still annoyed at that manager. I don’t even know if she was actually sick, and clearly not sticking to the planned meeting times was a big faux pas.

  100. RafaellaCG*

    My work friend showed up one day and her card wouldn’t clock her in, since they can be glitchy she took it to security where she found out why. The writing was on the wall but still.

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