DEV Community

Sloan the DEV Moderator
Sloan the DEV Moderator

Posted on

Confusing Company Layoffs

This is an anonymous post sent in by a member who does not want their name disclosed. Please be thoughtful with your responses, as these are usually tough posts to write. Email if you'd like to leave an anonymous comment or if you want to ask your own anonymous question.

At the start of November the company I worked for starting making layoffs. Myself and another guy who were due to go on paternity leave in January were both made redundant...neither of us had been at the company long enough to get redundancy pay but they did cover our notice period whilst terminating us without notice on the spot.

A few days after layoffs I find another guy who started the job the same day as me at the same level for the same role is promoted.

I'd be interested in any thoughts on this (p.s this is the UK)


Top comments (10)

theaccordance profile image
Joe Mainwaring • Edited

There are a variety of factors that can influence the decision making process as to who is retained and who is let go when a layoff occurs at a business.

From a macro perspective, the decision makers have to solve two key objectives with a layoff:

  1. Cost Optimization: Based on the CFO's math, the business has to adjust to ensure it has the appropriate runway to survive.
  2. Business Priorities: Most companies are realistic that with fewer resources, they'll have to focus on what will be most profitable, and will prioritize retention towards that need.

While some layoffs can be explained from a macro perspective (ex: Google shuts down a product or department) the majority of layoffs will be determined at a micro-level on a per-employee basis, where the sum of all the decisions achieves the macro-level objectives. Reasons why an individual could be included in a layoff include:

  • Underperformance
  • Lack of sufficient growth in junior roles
  • Costing too much for the value you provide
  • Insufficient amount of work to assign to the employee
  • Difficulties with synchronous collaboration, like working many timezones apart from the rest of the team.
  • Too many team members in that role for the revised org structure (ex: Too many QAs for the number of remaining engineers)

When it comes to comparing yourself to others, I would try not to dwell on this too much, a few reasons why a peer might survive a layoff when you didn't:

  • The peer was actually outperforming you
  • The peer cost less money
  • The company believed the peer was a better fit for the organization long term
  • The company may be unable to terminate the peer without risk of retaliation due to worker protections like a CBA or government regulations

Lastly, as to your question about why the peer may receive a promotion during a layoff event: Layoffs force the company to reorganize, which also creates opportunity. Not every layoff decision is because the role was eliminated, some will be based on performance, and the company may need to backfill that role to deliver on its revised focus. Internal promotions also have better optics after a layoff compared to filling the newly vacant role with an external candidate (plus external candidates tend to cost more)

fyodorio profile image

Also sometimes it’s just managerial stupidity. That’s it. Happens a lot.

theaccordance profile image
Joe Mainwaring

A rather poor choice in words given you replied to a manager.

I think you’re confusing the road that leads to a layoff versus the decision making process once layoffs are inevitable. I won’t disagree that managerial decisions impacts the state of a company but the context of this thread was not “How did we get to the point of layoffs”

essexgit profile image
Ralph Cox

Legal lay-offs happen because of cash flow - companies do not have power to higher and fire at will - performance management is allowed of course, but must be documented.

However, legal recourse for unfair dismissal is 'Civil' and even if the law is on your side the legal system favours employers.

theaccordance profile image
Joe Mainwaring • Edited

The UK may not allow at-will employment but it’s common in many other parts of the world. I specifically authored my comments in a geo-agnostic way because beyond the anonymous poster, there are many people today with similar questions given the Frequency of layoffs across the industry.

(My original comment was intended to be its own post on this site but I repurposed it after Sloan published this)

Thread Thread
essexgit profile image
Ralph Cox

Employment law is (as with many laws) specific to jurisdiction, however the original post did state that this was UK specific.

essexgit profile image
Ralph Cox • Edited

The way you describe this case, with two employees due for paternity leave dimissed at the same time, this is a winnable case at employmnet tribunal for unfair dismissal.

However, unless you are union members, the cost of fighting a case would probably exceed the payout and you have two risks to consider:

  1. Not getting costs.
  2. Losing.

You can lose an Employment Tribunal case for a variety of reasons outside the merits of the case.

After losing you can go to appeal - but this is dragging things out and your child (hope all goes well) is likely to be in school before the case is concluded.

You can fight the case yourself, I have done it, and received a settlement, but I would not recommend it to anyone - you have to study to the point you can beat the employer's legal team - and your mental health will suffer.

Your employer's conduct is deplorable - please don't expect legal action to change that. The colleague that was promoted may be ready to take your job.

You put in a joint written complaint to your employer, stating that you feel agrieved, that you were dismissed, ask for assurances that you will get good references for any other employer including potential competitors. This obligates them to respond and state in writing that the redundencies were for commercial purposes, what you don't want is to be blocked from future employment.

If you do decide to go the legal route, which I advise against, you have a time limit of 3 months and 1 day from the day you were given notice to file an ET1 with the courts, which can be done online.

Good luck, hope you can move on, and get some family time.

starkraving profile image
Mike Ritchie • Edited

It may have been the paternity leave to be honest. I was hired by a SaaS company and immediately after accepting their offer I got notice that I was being summoned to jury duty. I was told by the owner that if I went they’d rescind my offer and I’d lose the job. Not sure how long you’d been working for them (not long I think if you had no protection yet) but if your value proposition wasn’t proven yet they probably considered the cost of hiring and training a temporary employee to be higher than your value.

The only possible saving grace here is that the two of you were both going on paternity leave, which you might be able to sue over, if the UK guarantees the right to paternity leave — it will be hard for the company to claim a different reason for your layoff with both of you having the same circumstances.

Either way, f@#$&* ‘em! I’m sure you’ll land on your feet and hopefully you can stick it to them in the process

eecolor profile image

My thought is: there is not enough information so say something sensible in response to your post.

The only thing I can say is: did you ask the company to explain the situation?

And my advise would be: ask the question without judgement upfront.

greghinch profile image
Greg Hinch

From the way you have described this, it could be a violation of employment law in the UK.

Would need to know a lot more details, but there are very specific rules around how redundancies have to be handled, and further the fact that you were due to go on paternity leave should also make this something the company needs to handle in a very specific way (which it doesn’t sound like they did).

Check out this page on dismissal

You would likely benefit from some professional advice where you can discuss the specifics more and get an informed view - if you have home insurance, there is often legal cover available which can be used in situations like this. Alternatively there are charities in the UK who can also help. Many are set up to help women, who are too often affected by maternity leave discrimination, but i would expect they can help for fathers as well (Pregnant and Screwed is one that comes to mind).

In short, I don’t think you should accept this treatment, and there are legal protections for employees in the UK set up specifically to help here.