Posted 3 years ago - by

How to Handle Coronavirus-Related Layoffs in the Most Responsible Way

In addition to the widespread anxiety the current pandemic has caused, layoffs have become inevitable for many organizations. The state of local and global economies is rapidly fluctuating- leaving many behind.

If your organization is considering making permanent layoffs, be mindful of compliance and employment laws. Treat the situation with as much compassion and understanding as possible.


Exploring Workable Options

Before making the final decision, determine whether you can work with the following alternatives:

Work schedule adjustments

By reducing work hours or days, you can keep pay rates intact and save money and jobs. Consult with your HR team to determine the individuals or teams whose modified schedule will not compromise essential tasks, processes, and goals.

Reduced pay

Clear communication and leadership example will help you win employee support.

Be sure to convey the following:

  • The goal is to prevent layoffs.
  • The reductions are temporary (if possible, provide a time frame).

Leaders taking pay cuts will emphasize your commitment to your goals.

If you are going for a certain percentage of reduction across the board, consider whether lower-paid employees should have smaller percentage reductions to ensure they have sufficient income to address their needs.

When Layoffs Is the Only Option Left 


Furloughs may seem a less unattractive option to employees if they are guaranteed their jobs back after one or two months—even less so if you guarantee continued health insurance coverage along with other benefits.

Establish clear criteria for choosing who goes and share these with your employees. Work closely with your HR team to pick the key points to communicate to ensure transparency in your firm’s downsizing strategy.

When Layoffs Is the Only Option Left  

Be sure that your choices are backed up by thorough consideration that goes beyond pay and immediate savings.

In particular, see to it that you keep the right people. For example,

  • Those with the greatest impact on their teams and in your organization
  • Those who contribute the most or something unique, regardless of rank
  • Those whose skills are critical to getting your operations back to normal or to adapt to changes down the line


Implementing the Layoffs

1. Inform the employees to be laid off

Give as much notice as possible. Each individual should get a private meeting, with their manager and an HR representative present, and the details should be provided to them in writing.

If face-to-face meetings are impossible, an alternative is to have team managers inform their team members together or individually over the phone.

Whatever options are available to you, be sure to show empathy, respect, and kindness throughout the process.

2. Deal with your employees’ fundamental questions

The Harvard Business Review has identified 7 critical questions that you should be ready to address:

  • When will I receive my last paycheck, and will I get paid for my unused vacation time?
  • Will I receive severance pay?
  • How long will I have to exercise my stock options?
  • Is the company offering healthcare coverage after my last day of work, and for how long?
  • Will you provide a reference for me?
  • How can I get copies of my performance reviews?
  • What will happen to my 401(k)-retirement account?

3. Explore the ways you can help during the transition.

You can offer people outplacement services, whether through outsourced services or in-house. This includes resume and interview coaching, letters of recommendation, and personal referrals to prospective employers.

Do you need expert help in navigating the difficult layoff process?

Contact Payroll Systems. We pair human skills and empathy with the latest technology to take on our clients’ HR and payroll processes.

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This article provides general information and shouldn’t be construed as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws may change over time and can vary by location and industry, please consult a lawyer or HR expert for advice specific to your business. You can also contact Payroll Systems to inquire about our HR support services.