Too often, applicants write on their applications or tell interviewers that they were fired from a prior job when they were actually laid off. Fired typically means that an employee was involuntarily terminated for cause. Laid off typically means that an employee was involuntarily terminated because of a reduction in staff.
Being fired means that an employee failed to meet performance standards, attendance standards or violated a Company Policy. Violation of Company Policy typically includes such misconduct as falsifying work time, violating any safety, health or security procedure, violating the Company’s drug and alcohol policy, carrying firearms or any dangerous weapons on Company premises, violating the Company’s anti-harassment policies, participating in horseplay or practical jokes on Company property, theft or careless damage to Company property or insubordination. Being fired is usually the employee’s fault and is usually permanent.
Being laid off means that there was a reduction in staff due to changes in the company structure, a workload reduction or budget constraints. Sometimes a lay-off is temporary and the employee will be called back to work if conditions change. Being laid off is not the employee’s fault. While a lay off may feel like a firing, it is not and it is important to accurately indicate on applications and in job interviews if you were laid off. Do not confuse the terms or casually comment that you were fired if indeed you were laid off. It may well make the difference in whether or not you are considered for certain jobs.