Is it ethical/legal to ask your employer to lay you off?
January 10, 2006 7:11 PM   Subscribe

Is it ethical/legal to ask your employer to lay you off?

Mrs. Levant recently suffered a foot injury which will keep her on crutches for the next six weeks. She goes to college full time and works part time at a motorcycle dealership. Any of you out there who have spent extended time on crutches will understand that this is very taxing on her physically and she would like to drop the job in order to recuperate and concentrate on her schoolwork. However, our financial circumstances are such that we must have her income to get by. Last year she had a well-paying full time job and as such would make substantially more right now on unemployment than she would if she continued to work. Factor in the fact that this is the slowest time of year for motorcycle sales (she has remarked that there is little to do at work lately) and you can see how a layoff would be attractive, both to her and the dealership, in our opinion. The problem is that the dealership has not offered this to her, and quite likely it has not occured to them as an option. She also does not qualify for extended sick leave of any sort, much less paid sick leave. Therefore, we ask:
1) Is it legal for an employee to request to be laid off? Does the impetus for layoffs always have to come from the employer? Does the act of asking disqualify an employee from unemployment consideration?
2) Is it ethical to ask to be laid off? To us, it seems like the right thing to do in health/financial terms, but is it really a good thing in the broadest sense? Are there negative ramifications for us or the employer which aren't readily apparent?
3) If it is legal and ethical to ask, how does she go about it tactfully?
As always, your help is greatly appreciated......
posted by Anders Levant to Work & Money (5 answers total)
I can't answer 1-3 but I can tell you that the employer probably won't agree to it. Having an employee claim unemployement will increase their unemployment insurance for several years to come. The increase would be worse than paying a part-time employee to hang out in the slow months.
posted by necessitas at 7:26 PM on January 10, 2006

The problem here is that the employer may have no good reason to do this except for out of the goodness of their hearts...

If they lay her off, they face paying higher premiums for unemployment insurance, because I assume that she intends to claim unemployment to make up for the missing income...

Has the concept of taking a temporary disability leave been talked about? You don't mention it, but it might be the best option both ethically and legally (though it of course causes income issues)..

Alternatively, has she discussed perhaps temporarily changing job roles and doing more of a desk job instead of sales, so as to take her off of her injured foot?

Ethically, I don't see a problem between her and the employer as long as the employer doesn't mind taking a slight hit... As far as the ethics of .. well ... voluntarily sponging off of the government's unemployment fund when it's not really like she can't work at all (or was "really laid off")... I think that one's up for debate. Personally I'd say it's a gray area at best.

I have no idea about the legalities, but I'd say her best bet is to consider leave, or consider a temporary shift in job role...
posted by twiggy at 7:28 PM on January 10, 2006

You didn't mention where you live. If Mrs. Levant is Canadian, she cannot claim Employment Insurance benefits while attending college full- or part-time, so the other questions become moot.

That said, in Canada, employers do not see their premiums increase based on how many former employees claim benefits, so that downside doesn't apply. You need not be laid off; you need only be terminated without cause. It's perfectly legal to ask for it and to be terminated in such a manner.

Ethically, I don't see a problem. Working is harmful to her health and you need bread to eat. If you had to steal the bread, I wouldn't fault you, and this is hardly stealing bread.
posted by solid-one-love at 7:48 PM on January 10, 2006

Are you Canadian?

Canadian employers don't have premiums based on past layoffs.

However, although people can't usually collect EI if they are going to school full-time, they can collect it if they can demonstrate that the schooling would not interfere with their ability to work. YMMV.

Also, EI has a provision for disability/sickness/injury. You might want to check their website, if you're Canadian. I'm just guessing at your place of residence.
posted by acoutu at 9:38 PM on January 10, 2006

solid-one-love writes "If Mrs. Levant is Canadian, she cannot claim Employment Insurance benefits while attending college full- or part-time, so the other questions become moot."

If you can demonstrate the ability to work while going to school full time you can collect EI when you get laid off. I've done it twice. It helps to not be lid off in the last week of August.
posted by Mitheral at 7:36 AM on January 11, 2006

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