I was laid off temporarily (3 months) due to lack of projects in our department. However, what is concerning for me is that only 4 out of 45 people were laid off in our department and I was one of them. The only official explanation I was given was that the layoffs are only due to reduction in work caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But if there is less work, there is less work for everyone. It's not like a specific project was delayed or cancelled and we usually transfer from one project to another frequently. Just before being laid off, I was working on two different projects (though both of them were in their finishing stage). What I want to ask my manager is on what basis was the decision made. Was it solely due to the lack of work, or was my performance also a factor. It is important to me, because if there are performance issues, then I need to know so that I can make an effort to improve them. Up until now I have not been told of any performance issues.

Do you think it is a good idea to talk to my manager and ask for an explanation? Or I should just take the clue and start looking for other jobs?

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    What's stopping you both talking to your manager and looking for another role? Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 18:25
  • 14
    What country are you in?
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 18:31
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    Does it really matter? You won't have a job in the next 3+ months if you don't start looking for a new one right now.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 19:45
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    You should be able to largely figure out what to do if you answer a few questions for yourself: Would you be okay with being laid off for another 3 months after the current 3 months, and a few more months after that? Or just laid off permanently? What would stop that from happening? What can you do to stop that from happening? Does your manager care about your personal development? Does your manager expect you to just blindly follow instructions? Which type of manager do you want to work for? Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 6:15
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    @aakalim: if the law in your country says that this can only be temporary, and that they have to take you back in 3 months, then maybe that will reassure you. Even so, if at the end of 3 months projects haven't picked up, and the temporary permission to lay off is over, so they need to make 10% redundancies, then they're pretty much going to pick the same people if they can. After they've been through whatever process the law stipulates for redundancies. Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 8:53

7 Answers 7


Update your resume and look for another job.

No matter the reason, you've been put in the bottom 10% of employees, and deemed to be expendable.

If it's not by department, not by project, or anything else you can point to, then the reason is you. WHY the reason is you is irrelevant. If you ask for an explanation, you will just get some managerial nonsense and HR friendly explanation. Anything else, and your manager opens himself and the company up to a lawsuit. They won't do that, no matter how much they like you personally.

There is no guarantee that you'll be back after 3 months, either.

You are better off looking for another job, if for no other reasons than to cover your bases. Don't turn down a good offer, even if your company calls you back. They've demonstrated that they have no faith in you or loyalty towards you. Respond in kind.

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    Depending on jurisdiction "bottom 10%" could just mean "shortest employment history" or "no children to support". Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 7:43
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    @I'mwithMonica: The why makes no difference. If you're expendable, you're expendable, and you should respond accordingly. This isn't about "trust" or "loyalty," this is a business decision, for both OP and OP's former employer.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 8:22
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    @I'mwithMonica: If the company fired you, then they consider you expendable, by some criteria. It's not your problem if the company is using good criteria or bad criteria. Your problem is "Where will my next paycheck come from?"
    – Kevin
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 8:41
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    Thank you for you answer. I will definitely start looking for new jobs now. This whole situation has now left me feeling undervalued and unappreciated by my company. The only problem is that finding a new job in this market situation would be difficult. So i may have to return to the same company after 3 months.
    – aakalim
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 8:41
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    " So i may have to return to the same company after 3 months." Even if so, you will have lost nothing by looking around for another job meanwhile.
    – Fildor
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 12:31

I agree with Old_Lamplighter that, justified or not, you have been categorized as the expendable bottom 10 percent and you should start looking for another job immediately. However I think you have nothing to lose by asking your manager for some honest feedback. Sure, he/she might just give you "managerial nonsense" and a "HR friendly explanation". On the other hand, if you are lucky, he/she might give you some useful tips for improvement.

  • I'm a bit more utilitarian than you :D Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 20:10
  • @Old_Lamplighter Ah, but there's nothing to lose! Once a a new job has been secured, OP could go even further, asking the manager, "I've found a new job. Can you give me any advice?"
    – employee-X
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 15:57
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    @employee-X I've seen ex bosses pursue former employees and try to ruin their new jobs. So, I'm a bit more cynical. This is a good answer though, and I don't assume I am 100% correct Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 16:50
  • @Old_Lamplighter Wouldn't that be a basis for a defamation lawsuit if they did that, though? Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 15:59
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    @EJoshuaS-ReinstateMonica Also, how do you think your current employer would feel if you sued your ex employer over it? Now your current employer knows you will sue employers. Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 16:07

It is entirely feasible you were let go because your projects were finishing up-- you can be left behind with no disruptions to other projects. That makes you expendable, almost regardless of performance.

Still, it is a good idea to talk to your manager. The worst that can happen, and the most likely, is that the manager will give you little to no information. Also ask what the likelihood of you coming back in three months is, how you can best use the remaining time to improve yourself, etc.-- anything else that would put you at ease. It can only help.

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    Good answer, and a good alternative perspective to mine. Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 21:04
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    Thank you for your answer. I agree it is possible that i was let go because my projects were finishing up. In fact i would very much like to believe that! But the problem is i don't know for sure.
    – aakalim
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 8:27
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    This is a likely explanation. Nonetheless, the OP should start looking for a new job, since even if he was chosen just by bad luck, there is no guarantee at all that in three months time there will be more projects and he will be recalled. Nothing personal, it is just business, but it works both ways.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 13:08
  • I find it hard to believe that someone who was considered one of the top performers in the company would be the one on the chopping block just because the timing worked out that way.
    – eps
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 16:20
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    @eps, yeah, he's probably not a top performer then, but think about it this way. Is it worth firing someone else, taking the time to get this guy up to speed, during which time you down a person on an ongoing project? Only for the best. Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 16:28

At least in the UK we have government help for furlough, which applies up to a limit. Therefore it makes sense to furlough some employees rather than reducing the salaries of all - it's better to spend someone else's money than your own. All other things being equal, the employees to furlough are the ones with the highest salary below the cut-off, as that's the most benefit for the company's cash flow.

We also are aware of which employees were feeling more stressed about the pandemic or have caring responsibilities, and tended to furlough them rather than those who were better able to work from home. Also within my team we have certain specialisations so needed to keep some people with those specialisations. For example, the company's continuous integration guru left, so we brought back my team's developer in test to cover until we got a replacement, as he had CI experience.

So don't just assume being furloughed is only a matter of performance, there are numerous factors as to why particular individuals are or are not furloughed.


There's definitely no reason for you to remain idle, "hoping" that they will call you back. Dust off the ol' resume and get shopping for a new job. Pronto.


I was one of the first people to get laid off. So I quickly found myself another job. Subsequently, more people got laid off, and they had much more trouble finding work because the available jobs had been filled by people in the first wave of layoffs.

Consider yourself fortunate. Get off your ass and start looking for work now, while the looking is good.


One thing you can ask is how the company will manage without your particular skillset. Pethaps your skillset is expendable because they can do without by taxing others who possess a similar skills and are otherwise not easy to replace. There might be many reasons for letting you go that are not performance based but rather otherwise strategic.

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