Post # 1
Today at work I saw the severance paperwork for 5 people that will be let go from the company. The layoff is a result of a cost-savings idea which will expand current director roles while eliminating dual operations. My wonderful uncle is one of the employees that will be let go. I’ve been non-directly hearing that this will happen for awhile but since I never knew for sure I tried to pretend it wasn’t going to happen. My uncle as well as the other 4 have no idea. The only reason I know for sure is my boss had me go into his office to find some other paperwork and there was my uncles name with a huge bold SEVERANCE AGREEMENT print. And then later in the day I was searching through his email for a form and saw a ton of email traffic about it.
Now I’m in a very difficult situation. I know I shouldn’t say anything but I feel terrible! I don’t know how to handle this. I know my uncle will think that I knew about this (deep down I’ve known for awhile) and its killing me. I have the worst feeling in the pit of my stomach and no one to talk to about it.
What would you do?
*Another bee asked me to post this, as she wanted to remain anonymous*
Post # 3
I’d just tell him. The other alternative is just at least bring up the idea of potential layoffs in the company and in his department so at least he has an idea. You hate to be the bearer of bad news but you might be able to buy him a little time to start looking for a new job before he gets let go.
Post # 4
I’d either tell him or at least drop hints that you heard that there would be layoffs from his department or something. That will at least give him a chance to start considering where he’ll stand post-severance.
Sorry you had to find out about this ahead of time. You shouldn’t have to be in this position at all.
Post # 5
Tell him. The more time he has to start looking for work, the better.
It’s really unfortunate that your boss put you in this situation – unless he’s unaware of the family connection? He really should’ve kept you as far away from this as possible.
Post # 6
I would tell him and tell him to keep quiet about it…at least he can start looking for another job and be prepared.
Post # 7
I would keep my mouth shut unless I also wanted to be unemployed.
If you blab what you saw at work, your employer has no reason to trust you in any other regard. It’s also amazing what a small world it is, and the chance of your employer finding out about your lack of confidentiality is higher than you think.
You may have to explain to your uncle afterwards, but telling him is not going to change a thing for him.
Post # 8
Were you supposed to see that paper? Was it related to what you were retrieving? And/or was it left in an easy to see place?
Don’t take this next one the wrong way, but could the fact that you saw it in ANY way be construed as “snooping”?
If snooping, my advice would be different, but as it stands, assuming that the information was in plain sight or even moreso if you were in any way involved with actually handling this information, you need to let your boss know that this information is a conflict of interest for you and that you’re not comfortable being professionally involved. You also need to tell him that you’re not comfortable having this knowledge before your uncle does – and ask what their timeline is for informing him and the other 4.
Professionally, you’re probably bound to confidentiality, but I would personally probably try to vaguely imply it to him. If the budget cuts have been announced already, a lot of people are probably questioning their jobs – your uncle included. I would just indirectly “encourage” his thinking that his job may be on the line, without directly saying that you know anything.
Post # 9
I would definitley keep my mouth shut. At my old job, people who gave hints others were about to be let go were let go themselves. If your Uncle asks if you knew, I would say they were talking about letting people go for several months, but you hadn’t heard anything recently.
I don’t understand what telling him is going to accomplish unless you’re giving him a few months notice. If he becomes upset and confronts someone you’re going to get dragged into it.
Post # 10
OP’s Respose –
@ddw: I’m not going to lie and say I’ve never snooped at my job, I have. I like to know everything thats going on so I can be prepared. That being said I have tried my hardest to avoid anything related to the possibility that my uncle would be laid off. The paper I retrieved for my boss was under the Severance Agreements. I had to move them in order to get to the papers needed. The only way I could have avoided seeing it was keeping my eyes closed (impossible). Then when I see – Uncles Name – Lay off Timeline, in the subject of an email its pretty much obvious (but then yes I went snooping so I could know when they will let him go).
I think my plan is to not say anything (which makes me feel guilty) and play dumb. The only issue I will have is when he actually GETS laid off. It’s my job to schedule the appointment for him to be told, and I have to take his badge and I have to escort him off property 🙁 I will not do that and at that point I will tell my boss its inappropriate for him to ask me to do it (ie. conflict of interest).
It’s just really hard considering my uncle basically got me the job I have, he’s been with the company for 15 years, and I just got a pretty large raise and bonus that he’s aware of, and really he did nothing wrong, they are just trying a different direction with combined services. I just feel icky.