Could Target have done a better job? Of course they could have, it does appear that the general public heard about the Canadian shut down before the workers did. While not the end of the world, this certainly could have been handled better. There might have been leaks but Target has a very large and effective PR presence to deal with any such fallout or leaks. Just giving the workers the news 2 hours before the media was informed (and ensuring all impacted individuals did know before the media announcement) would have gone a long way to smoothing some of the ruffled feathers.
To be clear, Target has to provide 16 weeks of notice to the employees. This is an Employment Standards requirement, so there is nothing particularly benevolent about the organization providing the minimum amount of notice. In Ontario, should 500 or more employees be laid off in a 4 week period, the notice period is 16 weeks. This is just something they had to do. Now, they have the option, as the employer, of providing that as working notice or as pay in lieu of notice. Target has chosen to require some workers to work through their notice period. There is nothing egregious about this, lots of companies require their employees to work through notice periods.
Naturally, there is and should be concern about worker sabotage. I don’t imagine anyone is happy to be losing their job, and yes, there will be hard feelings. But there is nothing to stop any of these employees from looking for work during this 16 week notice period. And this is where I start to understand why people feel little sympathy for these workers. How many of us after working at any establishment for less than 2 years, received anywhere near 16 weeks’ notice?
At the end of the day, thousands are losing their jobs, and it is awful. But before we get too excited by the PR spin on how Target set aside a trust, remember they had to do that, and before we get too distraught over the way the employees are being treated, remember that they can act of their own free will with 16 weeks of pay to help them do so.
And while I am somewhat on the subject…can we bring back Zellers? Please?