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Tender Termination

The stock market's tumble is a sign pink slips are fluttering down into many dotcom and manufacturing companies. The economic boom lasted so long that some firms almost forgot how to fire people. Fortunately, many of them have now decided to "separate" from employees with more grace and less angst.

Smart businesses know that the clear-out-the-desk-and-go approach is terrible public relations, not to mention poor management practice - and could also jeopardize chances of rehiring promising workers.

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According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the elements of a humane layoff policy include adequate severance-pay agreements, job counseling, and perhaps most important, diligent communication between management and employees about company plans and why layoffs are coming.

For companies with 100 or more employees, federal law requires that workers be given 60-day notice of job loss.

Unfortunately, not all firms have joined the move toward more thoughtful layoffs. Some of the worst offenders have been the dotcoms that less than a year ago might have been furiously competing for eager talent.

In this field where "risk" and "gamble" are constantly in the air, it's a safe bet the companies that survive the current shakedown will include those who took the trouble, time, and added expense to deal with departing employees fairly. They're making a sound investment.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor