Dear Evil Skippy:
We closed our offices due to COVID-19 and laid off almost all of our 80 employees. It was not possible for their work to be done from home. The governor is allowing our business to reopen pretty soon with safety precautions (to allow for social distancing, etc.) I’d like to use this phase as an opportunity to make operations more efficient than they were before. There are several employees who were not pulling their weight so I am planning not to bring them back. There are no contracts and we don’t have union. My boss (the business owner) checked with one of her lawyer friends who said that what we plan to do is not illegal. My boss told me I should write to you for a second opinion. She laughed so I think she was joking so I am looking forward to showing her that I called her bluff.
While I have your attention though – was the lawyer friend correct about this being legal? I would love not to have to supervise a few of those people when we get going in a few weeks. What do you think?
— A Quarantined Supervisor
I think you are an ass and I would love not to work for you.
Using the pandemic-related shut down to take care of performance issues that you were too lazy, inept or stupid to address before the pandemic is jerk behavior. While it may be essential that I slap you, I shall refrain in the interest of social distancing.
Bring everyone else back and lay yourself off. That’s what I’d do.
–– Evil Skippy
P.S. Tell your boss I’m not so thrilled with her either. First, she should have told you that you are an ass. Second, she should not try to get a free second opinion from me when I am an out-of-work professional. Tell her to send $5 via Venmo to @James-Webber-29 and I’ll overlook the slight.
Day 70-something of quarantine and someone is cranky. I do not recall ES calling anyone an ass or starting a pledge drive before. The times they are a changing.
Supervisors ask me all the time if a certain practice or decision would be “legal”. Before I answer, I tell them they need to ask a second question – “Is it smart?” Conduct can easily be “legal” while at the same time be incredibly foolhardy which is my nice way of saying stupid. The mantra “Is this Legal?/Is this Smart?” is one of my favorites. I now realize it should be a trilogy. Employers should also ask, “Is this humane?” (I could argue that it can’t be smart if it is inhumane, but after reading the news lately I don’t want to leave being humane to chance.)
Using the pandemic layoff to terminate employees rather than using corrective action is not humane even if it might be legal in your jurisdiction. While some supervisors might call it smart because of the “efficiency,” it is not humane. Not by a long shot. It is hurting people when they are already down. It is failing to communicate. It is denying workers a reasonable opportunity to meet your expectations. It is failing to do your job.
You are a supervisor. So supervise.
And send the five bucks. ES needs shoes.
Jim can speak at your conferences and seminars. Contact Jim (and/or ES) here, on Twitter, Instagram and through the “Evil Skippy at Work” group on Facebook. (Twitter: @EvilSkippySays and @JimWebberLOL; Instagram: EvilSkippyAtWork and JimWebberLOL)