Difference Between Being Laid Off and Being Fired

Difference Between Being Laid Off and Being Fired

Most times when people are out of work, we hear them say they have been laid off or fired. Some have come to use the two terms interchangeably. Is there any difference between being laid off and being fired? Are the two terms synonymous? Find out in this article.

Being laid off and being fired do not mean the same thing but they imply the same thing – that someone just lost their job. However, what differs is the why, the reason behind the loss of employment.

Meaning of Layoff

Being laid off occurs when an employer dismisses workers at a time of low business volume, often with a severance package.

Reasons for a Layoff

  • When a company is trying to cut costs
  • When a company is trying to reduce the number of staff, probably because of redundancy
  • When there is a merger or acquisition of a company that leads to taking over by new management, they may decide to restructure and reorganize.
  • Downsizing

When you are laid off, you qualify for a severance package and unemployment benefits. Sometimes, your employer could place you in a new job or help you find one. Other times, a layoff could be temporary especially if it is caused by restructuring. A worker could be called back to work in this case. If a company downsized because of an economic situation, there is a chance of rehiring former employees if the situation improves.

Meaning of being Fired

To fire means to terminate the employment contract of an employee, especially for a cause. Being fired is also known as getting sacked.

Reasons for Being Fired

  • Misconduct like theft or harassment of co-workers
  • Poor performance
  • Failure to comply with a company’s policy
  • Taking too much time off which hints at unseriousness
  • Failure to meet a company’s expectations

Before a worker is fired, an employer may have sent them memos and warnings, and giving them the sack is always the last line of action. An employee who is fired does not receive compensation.



The difference between being fired and being laid off should be clear now. A layoff is caused by an employer while being fired is the fault of an employee. Either way, job loss has occurred. What should be done when a worker is fired or laid off?

If you are laid off, it is easier to explain why you are out of a job at an interview compared to when you are fired. Being laid off does not affect your eligibility for future job offers. If you explain the situation that led to you being laid off to an interviewer, there is no reason why you should not get a job if you fit the requirements. Actually, you have more chances of landing another job compared to someone who was fired. But, a new job offer may not be immediately waiting for you after getting laid off. There are some things you should do to make it easier to land a new job.

  • Confirm the Reasons for the Layoff: You deserve to know the reason why you were unwillingly dismissed. The reason for being laid off can come up in future interviews.
  • Severance Packages and Last Paycheck: Being out of a job is no small deal. You need to take care of your needs and maybe that of your family too until you get another job. Since a layoff comes like a shock and bad surprise, the company should have a severance package and the last paycheck to compensate. Severance packages vary from company to company and also according to the contract you signed. Ask for these before you leave. It is your right. You can also request a letter of reference from your former employer.
  • Learn Skills: This is not easy to do immediately after finding yourself suddenly unemployed. However, to be able to move back into the workforce, you need in-demand skills especially if a layoff leads to an employment gap. Use the time before a new job to improve your skills and stay proactive. This will reflect well on your resume and may increase your chances of being hired for a new job.
  • Prepare for Future Interviews: Sadly, the termination of your employment means you have to get back to job-seeking again, that is if you are willing to go back to the corporate world. Practice and prepare interview questions such as, “Why did you leave your last place of employment?” If your layoff leads to an employment gap in your resume, then you need to learn how to explain it before an interview.

What if you were fired? You may worry that it will not be easy to move on to another job. Your fears are not unfounded because employers will not see it as positive if you say you were fired. But an interview requires honesty. So what should you do? Here are some tips:

  • Be honest when applying for a job or when attending an interview. Interviewers and recruiters easily see through lies. Instead of lying, try to convince them that you have learned from your mistakes.
  • Prepare for interviews by practicing what to say when asked possible questions like, “Why were you fired?”
  • Learn from your mistakes by doing your best to get better at what you were fired for. Learn new skills to improve your credibility.
  • Accept your mistakes. That is the only way to grow. When you go for interviews, don’t try to place the blame for your sack on your former employer. Own up to your mistakes and show your prospective employer that you have learned from them.

Final Thoughts

Losing a job is never easy no matter whose fault it is. The significant difference between a layoff and being fired as we have seen in this article is that a layoff is no fault of an employee, it is caused by an employer; while being fired is mainly an employee’s fault. The loss of one’s means of livelihood no matter the cause is a tragedy. We hope the tips mentioned here will aid you in getting back your career on track by helping you secure a job that will be permanent. We are rooting for you!


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