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Laid off with no termination date.
April 19, 2012 9:59 AM   Subscribe

I've recently found out via public notice that the company I work for is closing, but I don't know when. The boss hasn't said anything to my colleagues or me. How do I approach him?

My colleagues are too scared and shocked to speak to the boss, and it looks like I, the most junior member of the team, may have to do it.
Obviously I am applying for new jobs like mad and I have some references lined up, but I NEED to know when we are being terminated. The reason why I am hesitant to approach him is because we all work closely with him and he is prone to losing his temper - when he is in a bad mood, everything is awful. Obviously this is all majorly fucked up, but we all need to keep our jobs for now. Can someone please give some advice on how to handle this situation?
posted by wigsnatcher to Work & Money (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Is it a publicly traded company? If so, it would be illegal for him to tell you, if in fact he knew.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:04 AM on April 19, 2012


If it were me, I would print out whatever public notice you saw and in a non threatening, non accusatory way, ask your boss if he knows anything about it and if he can give you any more details. He is on the same side of the ledger as you. He is losing his job too, right? Ask about time frames and termination packages if any.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:05 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't ask. What does it get you if you're applying for jobs already? If you get a job before the business closes, take the other job. If you don't get a job before the business closes, go on the dole and keep searching for a new job.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:06 AM on April 19, 2012


I don't think there is any best practice for these types of discussions but you need to know ASAP. I have been in situations too, where bosses easily lost their tempers and I'm sure you're used to it by now...bite the bullet and if they yell, they yell. It's public notice, so you're in your right to bring it up. Just ask if they have a minute for a quick closed door discussion, and calmly share what you found. Good Luck!
posted by doorsfan at 10:10 AM on April 19, 2012


Thanks for the replies so far. The company is very small and the boss is selling the land it stands on it, presumably to fund his retirement. I live in a small town and so will almost certainly need to move to find new work - it will also probably take me a while to find a new job.
posted by wigsnatcher at 10:21 AM on April 19, 2012


He will not tell you due to legal reasons. Look after yourself, get your job, bail asap!
posted by pakora1 at 10:21 AM on April 19, 2012


Wait, did it clearly state in what you saw that the business is closing? Or that he's selling the land and that's it?

Because maybe he's just selling the land, but keeping the business open. I admit I don't know that much about business/real estate law, but it doesn't seem too weird to sell off the land a building is on but keep the building itself, and keep open a business within that building.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on April 19, 2012


He now has planning permission to demolish the specialist building we work in and build residential houses. I don't know much more about it than that, but it seems like a pretty damning sign.
posted by wigsnatcher at 10:36 AM on April 19, 2012


He now has planning permission to demolish the specialist building we work in and build residential houses. I don't know much more about it than that, but it seems like a pretty damning sign.

"Boss, I saw a notice in the paper about a permit for demolishing this building. Are we moving?"
posted by headnsouth at 10:41 AM on April 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


If this is the case, then, as far as a job search is concerned, your termination date is right now. Find a new job and take it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:41 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe he will move the business?

Having permits is a big step, but in my area you have a year to initiate the work or you lose the permit. The land is more valuable to sell if it already has all the approvals. It appears that is what he did; got the necessary approvals and permits and sold the land to developer. Find out when he closes on the transaction and figure a few days after that, the building will come down.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:41 AM on April 19, 2012


Just focus on getting a new job and don't put energy into your jackass boss who isn't putting any energy into being a good boss.
posted by rhizome at 10:47 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


If he loses his temper this is a great time to lose yours back...assuming, of course, you are sure that you are losing your job.
posted by Busmick at 10:55 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


By em: hey, you seen this? Enything I should meke of it? Short, sweet & to the point.
posted by Ys at 11:14 AM on April 19, 2012


Yeah, so what if he loses his temper? How ridiculous. You're the ones who should be mad. Feel free to get as mad with him as you are in turmoil right now.
posted by dhartung at 11:38 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


My colleagues are too scared and shocked to speak to the boss, and it looks like I, the most junior member of the team, may have to do it.

I have a hard time believing this. If the others want to know, they'll eventually ask.
posted by rdr at 1:52 PM on April 19, 2012


I think you just need to ask him directly. "I saw this notice and rumor has it that the company is closing. What's going on?" Maybe you could ask before the lunch break, or something like that, so that if he blows up everybody has a chance to cool down before returning to work. Just remind yourself that people blowing up at you is usually worse in prospect than retrospect.

IANAL, but I'm skeptical of the theory that he's legally forbidden to tell you, when the company's plans to demolish the building are already public— if he says "I can't tell you", just assume you'll be out of a job in two weeks and act accordingly. Though who knows, maybe he's selling the company to its nearest competitor or customer and you'll still have a job at a new location.
posted by hattifattener at 3:24 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


He now has planning permission to demolish the specialist building we work in and build residential houses. I don't know much more about it than that, but it seems like a pretty damning sign.

"Boss, I saw a notice in the paper about a permit for demolishing this building. Are we moving?"


This, exactly. Don't jump to conclusions. I wouldn't just talk to your boss, but go right to the owner and have a conversation like this:

You: Hi boss, I saw a thing in the newspaper about the land being sold. Are we moving?
Boss: I can't really talk about it.
You: I can understand that. Should I be worried about my job?
Boss: Like I said, I can't really talk about it.
You: OK, can I ask a hypothetical question? If you were me, knowing what you know, would you think it was a good idea for me to buy a bigger house right now?

If you get a "uh, probably not", then yeah, I'd be worried and start looking for another job. If you get another "I can't talk about it", then I'd also be worried, but maybe a little less. If you get a more positive "I don't see any reason why now would be any worse or better than any other time", then I wouldn't be so worried.

If you get a negative answer, maybe ask him one more: "OK, again hypothetically. Would you be looking for another job, and how quickly would you want to be making the move to another job?"

Or just lay it on the line: "Even though you can't say anything, it seems pretty clear to me that my job isn't going to be around much longer. Do you want me to try to stay until a certain date, or should I start looking for a new job ASAP?"

Any downside is that your boss will be pissed. The upside is that he might telegraph some information that you can use. Or, if the company is staying in operation, you've shown that you are a solid employee that tries to solve problems directly.
posted by gjc at 6:47 AM on April 20, 2012


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