Having to layoff workers... how to do properly?

Being a manager for a company that is experiencing a downturn, I am asked to lay off several people in my dept. The owners of the company want to remain profitable, or at least avoid losses. I don’t believe this is sinful, since it is the nature of business to make money. The workers are under no contract.

However, I am still upset on a personal level, having to disrupt people’s lives. What is the proper catholic perspective of being a manager in these situations? I know that I am an employee myself, and need to follow the rules and the demands of my superiors.

You do have a Christian duty to perform your work since your job is a gift from God (as all good things are). That means doing what your superiors dictate unless morally objectionable. Having to layoff employees is not a morally offensive act on your part. You are doing your job, your duty.

Please be compassionate and understanding if the laid off employees get angry at you. They are suddenly suffering (if not previously suffering). Pray for them and yourself before you have to lay them off, and then after. I have a Catholic prayer book with a prayer in it for the unemployed which I see could be adapted accordingly. Here’s a version on the web: mycatholictradition.com/prayer-of-Unemployed.html

I recommend praying a Rosary beforehand for yourself for courage and strength with this difficult task. and also for those who will suffer on the other end of the task. But please don’t feel any guilt or shame in performing the duties of your station in life. Ask God to help you grow as a Christian from this experience.

I will pray for you. I know this is a difficult position to be in as a Christian.

Totus tuus,


Simon, thank you for the thoughtful reply. I believe what you say is true. This gives me some concrete approaches to this situation. :slight_smile:

have been on both ends of this scenario and it ain’t pretty
what we did when faced with OP’s dilemma–we were informed Friday to have a list of half our department for layoff by Monday am–was to spend the weekend calling contacts and arranging interviews for new jobs for the unlucky ones, so that when it came time to deliver the bad news we did it individually, not by means of a list on the bulletin board in the lunchroom, and with a referral to a possible new position. Of course that was only 12 people not the wholesale layoffs going on now.

I hope if you have influence with your employer you can urge that their be some kind of service for employees who are leaving, usually if companies work with the state unemployment bureau something can be arranged so the needs of those workers can be addressed specifically.

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