How do I get fired?
My company is planning a mass layoff. How do I make sure I'm part of the plan?
Eleonore B., Geneva
Lucky you! Mass layoffs are always a great opportunity to start a new project, or just lie about at home and play video games for a year. Geneva is a wonderland for mass layoffs: gloomy economic perspectives, insanely generous unemployment benefits, and a stunningly beautiful environment full of leisure activities, so you don’t ever get bored.
Let me take a guess that you work for one of those multinational corporations that have benefitted from these ridiculously low cantonal tax schemes in the past decade. Now that the party’s over and they’re sending everyone home, most of these employers will hand out something like one month’s salary for every year you have spent toiling for the company. The trick here is to keep your severance package below the magic number of 126,000 francs. If you can do that, then you’re eligible for unemployment benefits from the very first day. That means you cash in twice. Pretty pukka! (I have a friend who just got fired from a tobacco company in Lausanne after 20 years on the job, so now he’s sitting on half a million but the poor sod can’t collect his unemployment checks. So unfair.)
Back to your question now: most employees have a pretty good gut feeling about whether or not they will be part of a mass layoff. If you have spent the last few years sending pointless e-mails and picking your nose behind a computer screen, you are in luck. Just make sure you don’t perform any useful tasks in the next few weeks, and everything will turn out hunky-dory. When that phone rings and someone from Human Resources says they need to see you straight away, you’ll know your moment in the sun has arrived.
Meanwhile, beware not to commit any fatal errors. Some people get nervous and start doing stupid things, like achieving sales targets or making coffee for the boss. I know someone else who works for that company in Lausanne and this chap actually kept his job. Now he’s on Prozac and things are looking pretty bad for him. They want him back at work, those bastards.