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What Does Layoff Mean?

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Time Off Isn't Always a Blessing

Everybody likes a vacation and extra time to spend with the family relaxing on the beach or in your own backyard. But vacations are more attractive when you keep getting a paycheck while you aren't at the office, and they can be downright scary if they're unpaid, unsolicited and without a set duration. Another word for this type of employer-imposed hiatus from work is "layoff."

What Does Layoff Mean?

A layoff is when your employer suspends or terminates your employment. A layoff is not the same as being fired, since it usually has nothing to do with fault on your part. Rather, most of the time, layoffs result from financial issues in the company or corporation you work for, like insufficient cash, falling sales or inability to find the work materials necessary.

Sometimes an employee is given advance notice that layoffs are coming. Sometimes that's not the case and the layoffs take you completely by surprise. In many cases, even when no official advance notice is given, employees have already become aware of the company's problems, so the layoff doesn't exactly strike like lightning out of the blue.

Many layoffs are open-ended, and some are permanent. These are also called "job redundancy."

What Does Layoff Mean in Business?

Layoffs can mean different things in a business environment. For example, a disciplinary layoff, as opposed to a general layoff, is usually a punishment for employee misconduct. If you break work rules, you may be removed from the job for a set period of time during which you aren't paid.

More often, a layoff means only that the business or company is going through hard times. During a down-cycle in the economy, a company might reduce its ongoing expenses by laying off a percentage of its workers. When an industry's product price is dropping, a round of layoffs can signify the cash problems associated with this.

Tips and Considerations

If you're in danger of a layoff, check with your state's human resource agency. You might be entitled to special treatment.

In some states, like California, when an employer is laying off employees, the workers may be given priority status for rehiring. California has procedures in place for an employer to designate workers in danger of layoff as "surplus" employees. Surplus employees also get SROA (State Restriction of Appointments) status, meaning that the employee's name is placed on SROA hiring certification lists for the employee's current class and current work location.

The better and more valued an employee you are, the higher your chance of avoiding a layoff. Be sure you come to work regularly and on time. Slackers are often among the first to be let go in a downturn. A positive attitude also counts, as well as hard work on a regular basis. Get involved and keep engaged in all aspects of your employment.