Mrs. PIE is Facing a Lay-Off. Yay or Ugh?

Well this is a new one for me: a ‘real time’ post and the very real prospect of getting laid-off.

This is the kind of thing that needs to be captured right now. If I’m not laid-off I probably won’t go back write about what I was thinking today. And if I am, well, there’s a whole set of considerations worthy of much longer posts.

OK, a little background. I have had my current job at a large pharmaceutical company for nearly 18 years now (come November). We started off as a much smaller company and were bought out several years back. I have beaten the odds and bucked the trend by managing to avoid several rounds of lay-offs over the years as the company grows and changes direction.

Today and tomorrow my company is rolling out its next ‘Transformation’. That’s obviously one of the multitude of words a corporation can use to describe what they are doing. I’m sure you can list all the others!

I honestly don’t know how my department will be affected. I could range from all gone (very unlikely) to some percentage of cuts, to no change at all. What I do know is that even if I’m not affected, many of my colleagues in other departments will be.

Here’s a lay out of my thoughts on the matter, which range from “who cares” to “oh crap!”

Yay! I get to ‘quit’ and they will pay me off too!

I have to admit that my first mental response was of the “Yay!” variety. It seemed perfect: Mr. PIE and I have set our FI date for 2018 when we will quit and move to the mountains. If I can get to close to one years’ salary as a severance (I have been there a loooong time!), then we could easily change that to 2017. Heck, we could probably do it today, but as you may be aware we are very conservative folks.

I get to spend time getting our house ready for sale. Additional costs will be easy to cut – the cost of me working is quite high: before and after school care, tolls and gas, still too many convenience meals etc. etc. We essentially live just on Mr. PIE’s salary right now. Most of mine goes to savings. We would be fine.

If I don’t get close enough to a full years’ severance I could work. I’m thinking a part time very local job (I am DONE commuting!) Starbucks would do, I’m pretty flexible and if I know it’s just short term it could be OK.

The slightly odd side to knowing that we’re OK is in talking with my colleagues about the impending doom. As you can imagine, there’s a good mix of gossip, rumor and opinion going around. I’m well known as a level headed kind of person but I feel distinctly odd that I haven’t got the worry lines that others have about this. It makes it very hard to talk about. Several years ago I would have been feeling very concerned, much the way most of my colleagues are. I’m dreading anyone asking me what I’ll do if I’m laid-off. I really don’t want to blithely answer “Oh, I’m OK. I don’t need to work” That is the WRONG thing to say right now when everyone is feeling so sensitive. I’m keeping my mouth shut and head down as much as possible.

Ugh! and Oh Crap!

This is the other side of the coin. The less confident side. The severance could be really stingy, leaving us re-writing our Excel spreadsheets with the potential of our FI plans being derailed. I’d have to look hard for another well paid job to see us through two more years. I’ve got several reasons this is a horrible prospect: I currently work four days a week which is great for scheduling around weekends and kids. The chances of finding that again in a new job are minimal. I mentioned before I am DONE commuting. A new job in my field would almost certainly require a commute.

I think I’ll know one way or the other by the end of tomorrow. Between now and then work is not going to be a pleasant place to be given what will be going on around me. I will update one way or the other at the end of the week. Until then it will be a case of ‘Carry on and Keep Your Head Down!”


  1. Wow – such an interesting post. I’ll be thinking about you and many of us are in the same boat here! I know I am FI – but sooooo still getting used to the idea! Wish my pension would come sooner (than 5 years from now…) but I don’t wish those 5 years away at all! “Keep calm and keep your head down” – a new slogan for the day. I feel bad for your co-workers too. Glad you have clarity about the commuting!

    1. Thanks Vicki,
      I guess any change from our original plan will take some getting used to. Even the idea that there ‘could’ be a change to the plan is hard enough. Guess it’s time for us to learn some flexibility!

  2. I went through a layoff last year – and honestly I didn’t know if I wanted to get laid off or not. But when I got the offer to keep my job, I did cry a little… I was hoping that someone else would give me that FI kick and take the responsibility of deciding when to quit and battling the one-more-year syndrome off my shoulders. But, then I realized I would’ve cried a little if I did get laid off, because it would have me questioning my awesomeness. I think the best strategy (for me at least) was to have a game plan for both scenarios, and focus on the upside of whatever the outcome was. In these cases, it is totally out of your control, so being positive is kind of the best strategy! Remember – either way you will come out a winner!

    1. thanks! that’s a very positive way to think about it – either way we win. Thanks!
      I know what you mean, I don’t want anyone to question my awesomeness, but there will be mixed emotions whatever happens!

  3. That is an interesting situation for you guys. Much better than being terrible, as it is for a lot of people. With a corporation of your size I would expect you to get at least a week per year of service, more likely two. If you were to receive 36 weeks of severance and get some PTO paid out, could you call it quits for good? I bet you could with all your padding in your estimates! 🙂

    If you do get laid off, I wish you the best and hope they give you a nice package. You’ve worked hard to earn the right to not let this effect you too much!

  4. Thanks, I’m banking on the severance being closer to two weeks. who knows though?!
    Still got to think this trough based on what plays out, but my inclination is to be done with ‘serious’ work. we’ll see though…..

  5. Wow, big decisions coming up for you. As much as there must be some anxiety (or maybe not) for you, I am sure you and Mr.PIE are relieved that you were able to be prudent with your money thus far. I can imagine the angst though, 18 years is a long time to then have to up and leave, especially 2 years away from FI. I am sure whatever the decision is, you and Mr.PIE will find away to reach your 2018 goal. Sometimes life is interesting that.
    I wish you the best in whatever situation you are dealt. I am sure you will make it through just fine in the end.

    1. Thanks Pamela,
      You’re right, it’s certainly a long time. I think that also makes it harder to envisage. It’s hard to imagine leaving and hard to imagine finding work somewhere else. 2018 is going to be one of the LAST things that changes due to this, unless it gets closer of course!

  6. Thanks for sharing Mrs PIE. I say, for this week, Yay either way! There’s no decision to make, so just take a few deep breaths and take it as it comes :). I can empathize about not wanting anyone to question your awesomeness, but I find people really don’t do that anymore since these are so common now and we all know great performers who got hit. I can also relate to being careful about what to say to colleagues who are more worried – it’s a sensitive issue. I found that listening to the ‘processing’ of other people was useful to help me work through my own thoughts, so I stayed engaged but didn’t say much other than that I was having mixed feelings. As you say, at the end of the week you’ll know whether there’s more to consider. I’ll be thinking of you this week.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. When you can’t control the situation the best thing is to take a deep breath and wait and see. That’s sooo hard though!
      I have found myself more on the listening side with others. It does make things easier, both in not having to give an opinion and seeing different perspectives.

  7. Sorry to hear your Company is going through a “Transformation”! Hopefully if something does happen to you that they take care of their long-term employee (18 years!!) with a very well deserved severance package. I’ll be very interested to hear more and hope the best for you! Thanks for sharing real time Mrs Pie.

  8. You don’t know how to respond, I don’t know how to respond either! It’s a shame that companies lay people off, but that’s just inevitable life I guess. For the sake of your FIRE, I hope they don’t lay you off – you’re nearly there and it’s a good paying job. Uncertainty could be horrible and I bet you both (as conservative people) would rather have a bit more of a buffer. Perhaps the perfect result would be a 1 year severance pay AND being able to take up the local job. Best of both worlds I suppose. Good luck with whatever happens!


    1. Thanks Tristan,
      You’re right, being able to stick with the known and stick with the plan would be so much more comfortable, especially at this point. After this long it’s very hard to imagine what might be next if I need to find a new job. Will just have to see what plays out!

  9. If it does happen, it could end up being the best thing that ever happened to you. If not, I guess you’ve still got a job. Kinda sounds like a win / win unless the severance package is weak. I’ll be looking for a post in the very near future to find out what happened!


  10. I’m crossing my fingers that you get two years of severance for every year in should a layoff occur. I may be projecting but I think your first “yay” response is the one your heart wants to follow.

    If you’re put on the spot and don’t think of a good, quick response, remember, using your spouse as an excuse is always a good ploy. ‘What will I do? I don’t know but Mr Pie is not very happy about the situation and we have many nights of discussion ahead of us”.

  11. Two years for every year would be awesome! 😉
    I LOVE your suggested response, had us both laughing! I going to have to try to use it now and try not to laugh!

  12. Companies need to knock it off with these ideas of “transformation.” I’m sorry to hear that you’re both going through this! Chances are it will all turn out fine one way or another, but I understand the concern. I wonder if there is any way you could push for a large severance package (2-3 years) as an incentive for them to push you out the door and replace you with someone they could pay less. That would make Financial Samurai pretty happy, at any rate. Just a thought; looking forward to hearing more about this in the days ahead.

  13. Thanks FS. If I knew what this ‘transformation’ was supposed to be doing, I’d have more leverage. As it is I have no idea if they want to replace, cut or change function. I will be asking for everything I can get though!

  14. My company is undergoing a “transformation” as well, and we are being assured “it’s definitely NOT aimed at reducing headcount”… Riiiight…. They haven’t done massive layoffs like almost every other company, and oil is still really low, so I am expecting that to happen sooner than later. Plus, they’re drawing out the “reorg” into Q4, with interviews for medium mgmt positions this month and then more interviews in August for lower mgmt team lead positions.

    It’s all about efficiency, but most of us with over 5 years keep saying, “Why not hack at the SG&A for more efficiency, we’re staffed like it’s $80 oil and we have 30 rigs running.” Currently we have about 1.5 rigs running.
    I did mention to boss that if I was offered a 2 year package, as much as I love working here, I’d give everyone a smile and a handshake and say, “Keep in touch” and walk away smiling.

    Good luck on your transformation, and realize that it doesn’t have anything to do with your work, past performance being stellar, or anything, it’s just numbers and headcount and luck of the draw. Fingers crossed for you – whichever way it works out! 🙂

    1. It would have been good news either way, but this way there’s no scrambling to change plans. The job continues for now. Thanks so much for your concern and thoughts

  15. Having lived through this “impending doom” ( conference call on Friday the 29th perhaps? )…I understand your angst as well as your tempered excitement. I often feel like I may need a good shove out of the proverbial saloon doors and into the water trough/dirt street to give up the “perks”. Best of luck…you’re positioned well either way!
    *My severance guess would be @ 36 weeks or 2 weeks/year of service.

    1. There’s nothing wrong with a ‘shove’, you’re right – discomfort can be a good game changer sometimes. thanks for your thoughts

  16. This is a lot of uncertainty to be going through. Even if you like whatever the result ends up being. I’ll keep you in the light. I hope you are able to negotiate for whatever will bring you the most joy.

  17. It’s an intriguing concept: for the profound decision of when to retire to let someone else have the final say.
    Since you have essentially reached FI already you can probably go through it more relaxed. Ironically, you can probably go through the next few days and weeks waiting for a decision with a clearer head than some coworkers who are in debt up their eyeballs and really, really need to keep their job.
    Also, if you do get laid off, don’t doubt your awesomeness. Your family finds you awesome, even your blog audience finds you awesome and probably your employer too. But sometimes whole departments get shut down, people are laid off and it has NOTHING to do with their personal skills or their performance. I have seen multiple rounds of this at my firm. It’s corporate BS, right out of a Dilbert cartoon. Things happen for a reason and you will do great either way. Best of luck!

  18. Thanks so much for the kind words. This has been a lesson in many things, from the importance of financial independence to how much I obviously rely on my job for validation and feelings of awesomeness. There’s a lot to take away from this and luckily I have time to work it out on my own terms

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