People lose their jobs for many different reasons. Sometimes it's because they have done something wrong and other times it's due to economic or business decisions.

In this online exercise, we will look at business English vocabulary connected to losing a job. Not only the names for the different ways of losing a job, but also the vocabulary connected to the process and the possible consequences. This exercise is for both people in human resources and those who have lost a job.

Click here to see an online exercise on leaving a job vocabulary


Exercise: Losing their jobs

Read the following conversation between Geoff a human resources manager and Dave, a member of the human resources team, about staff losing their jobs.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Geoff:'How has your morning been?'

Dave:'Very busy. It never stops! I have a few things to update you on. Are you available now?'

Geoff:'Go ahead.'

Dave:'First of all, Susan from marketing wants to terminate the contract of one of her team?'

Geoff:'For what reason?'

Dave:'For both his level of attendance, he has being missing a lot of days from work and his overall work quality. She was wondering if this gave us the grounds, the justification to be able to fire him.'

Geoff:'You need to make sure that he's been given by his manager first a verbal warning. But more importantly, he needs to have then been given an official or written warning. Without either of these, we can't do anything.'

Dave:'She said he has had both.'

Geoff:'OK, get signed copies of both. Also, we need a copy of his last performance appraisal. Hopefully, his manager has written something about the problems there. Remember, if we don't follow the legal procedures, he may be able to complain of unfair dismissal, and argue that he was fired because of ethnicity or religion rather than because of his work. And if it does goes to an employment tribunal, we need to make sure we did everything correctly.

Can you also calculate what his severance pay will be. Remember, we have to pay him for any outstanding days of holiday he still has.'

Dave:'I'll take care of it.'

Geoff:'Ah, there's something I need to talk to you about. I've just had it confirmed that because of the crisis, in June we're going to make redundant 40 staff. The Chief Executive Officer wants to lower costs. Also, there will from now be no new staff recruitment.'

Dave:'What, we're going to lay off 40 people. My god! What has the union said about it?'

Geoff:'At the moment, the union doesn't know anything about it. But I'm sure they have suspected that something like this would happen. We'll inform them in the next couple of days and start negotiations to finalise the details by the end of the month. But before this, we'll have to do a proposal on what the redundancy package will be. The longer they've worked here, the more money they will get. So, we're going to be a lot busier here in human resources I'm afraid.'




Quiz: Losing a job vocabulary

Below is a definition/description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now fill in the blanks with one of these words/phrases in bold. Only use one word/phrase once and write it as it is in the text. Click on the "Check answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question which you can press/click on. In the first icon, , you can find extra information about the word/phrase (e.g. when, where and how to use etc...) and a Spanish translation. In the second, , is where you can listen to the word/phrase and do a pronunciation test (to make sure you can say it correctly).


1.

When a company reduces the number of staff because of economic reasons, is

         

To make redundant:
(phrase) This occurs when a company has financial problems and needs to reduce the number of its workers to lower costs. An informal way to say the same is 'to lay off'. In Spanish: "despedir".

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To make redundant:

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2.

An informal verb which is used to describe when somebody loses their job because of their own behaviour, is

         

To fire:
(verb) In this context it has the same meaning as 'to sack'. It means that it was your own fault why you lost your job. It has the same meaning as 'to terminate somebody's contract', but is a lot more informal. A company 'fires' a worker, and a worker 'is fired' by a company. In Spanish: "despedir".

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To fire:

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3.

An organisation that represents the interests of the workers, is a

         

Union:
(noun) A 'union' or a 'trade union' is an organisation that helps workers when there are problems with their employer. To be a member, workers have to pay the union money each month. In Spanish: "sindicato".

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Union:

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4.

A different way to say 'justification' to do a legal/official action, is

         

Grounds:
(noun) Basically, it means the factors that can justify doing a legal/official action like firing somebody or not paying a supplier money if they have broken a contract, e.g. 'bad level of attendance'. In Spanish: "causas".

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Grounds:

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5.

The process where two different groups try to reach an agreement, is called

         

Negotiations:
(noun) In the context of staff/workers issues, a negotiation is when two groups with different interests officially talk to each other to resolve an issue, e.g. unions and employers. In Spanish: "negociaciones".

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Negotiations:

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6.

A formal phrase which is used to describe when somebody loses their job because of their own behaviour, is

         

Terminate the contract:
(phrase) It means that it was your own fault why you lost your job. This is the same as 'to fire' or 'to sack', but 'to terminate somebody's contract' is the official/professional way to describe this action and is normally used by the human resources department. In Spanish: "poner fin al contrato".

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Terminate the contract:

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7.

The second official warning to an employee about their behaviour or work, is called a

         

Written warning:
(noun) In most companies, this is the last warning you receive before having your contract terminated/being fired. Before this, you are given a verbal warning. You normally get both if your work quality is very poor or you have done something bad. The original copy is normally kept by the human resources department. In Spanish: "apercibimiento por escrito".

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Written warning:

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8.

The number of times you go to work, is your

         

Attendance:
(noun) The verb is 'to attend'. This is used for work, classes, school etc... In Spanish: "asistencia".

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Attendance:

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9.

An informal way to say 'to make redundant', is

         

To lay off:
(phrasal verb) In this context, it means 'to make redundant'. This often occurs when a company has financial problems and needs to reduce the number of its workers to lower costs. This is a transitive phrasal verb that is separable (the object can go between the two parts), e.g. 'They are laying them off'. In Spanish: "despedir".

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To lay off:

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10.

The first official warning to an employee about their behaviour or work, is called a

         

Verbal warning:
(noun) In most companies, this is the first warning you receive. You normally get this if your work quality is very poor or you have done something bad. If your work doesn't improve or you do something bad again, then you are given a second warning, that is known as a 'written warning'. If your works still doesn't improve or you do something bad again, then your 'contract is terminated' / 'you are fired'. The original copies of both are kept by the human resources department. In Spanish: "apercibimiento verbal".

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Verbal warning:

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11.

A yearly review of how you are doing in your job, is called a

         

Performance appraisal:
(noun) This is normally done by your manager every year. It's an official company document where your overall performance and attitude is reviewed. In it are made recommendations for the coming year. It can also include warnings and things that you need to improve. The original copy is kept by the human resources department. In Spanish: "evaluación del rendimiento/profesional".

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Performance appraisal:

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12.

When an ex-employee is fired for incorrect or wrong reasons, it is

         

Unfair dismissal:
(noun) Normally, when an ex-employee believes that their contract was terminated for reasons other than their job performance, they claim for 'unfair dismissal'. In this situation, an independent party (an employment tribunal or court) decide if the termination of their contract was appropriate/correct or was wrong, which is 'unfair dismissal'. If they decide it was 'unfair dismissal', then the ex-employee normally receives compensation (money). In Spanish: "despido improcedente/injustificado".

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Unfair dismissal:

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13.

An independent group that decides on disagreements between employees and employers, is an

         

Employment tribunal:
(noun) This is an independent group that makes recommendations when there is a disagreement or dispute between employees and employers. They can make decisions about pay, employment conditions, unfair dismissal, redundancy etc... The decision that an employment tribunal makes are only recommendations and it is unable to enforce them or make sure they happen. In Spanish: "tribunal del trabajo".

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Employment tribunal:

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14.

The amount of money somebody is paid when they are made redundant, is a

         

Redundancy package:
(noun) This is also called 'redundancy pay'. The amount of money you receive when you are made redundant normally depends on the amount of years that you have worked in the company. So, the more years you have worked, the more money you receive. A redundancy package can also include other things like shares, private health insurance etc... In Spanish: "indemnización por despido".

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Redundancy package:

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15.

The amount of money somebody is paid when they are fired, is a

         

Severance pay:
(noun) This is also called 'severance package'. The amount of money you receive when your contract is terminated normally depends on the amount of holidays you have outstanding and bonuses. A severance package can also include other things like shares, private health insurance etc... In Spanish: "indemnización por despido".

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Severance pay:

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Practice

Now that you understand the losing your job vocabulary, practise it by creating your own sentences in English with the new words/phrases.