With apologies for the Alien3 reference.
So, on Wednesday the 30th of March, I was finishing up my project work when I got a chat message on my office communicator. It was our head of department, asking me if I would be available the next day at 11:00am to go to a meeting with a new customer. They’d requested a Technical Writer’s presence.
I thought okay, that’s weird, but had to accede to the reality of the situation – tomorrow, I would have no billable work to do and they were still looking to fire one person from the few we have left. So it was all to the good. I said I would rearrange my schedule and complete my project handover stuff before and after the midday meeting.
Wednesday evening, I was just getting dinner ready when I received a text message from our head of HR.
In other news, did you know I’m the last remaining native English speaker in Lionbridge Finland? So from now on at least HR will be able to make awkward “you’re fired” messages in their own language.
 There was a typo here. Because that’s how the universe rolls.
So that, I figured, was that. I got in touch with our employee representative and she very kindly agreed to come to the meeting with me.
To be honest, I wasn’t upset – and I’m still not.
Now, here’s what I have learned about Finnish employment law, as pertains to the dreaded “YT”, which is the Finnish version of collective bargaining. And I know this is confusing a lot of my family and friends, because it confused me too.
They don’t actually give a pay-out when they fire you – that’s just essentially what it amounts to, because they pay (for example) four months’ salary from the day they notify you of termination.
That means they pay normal salary for four months. It’s four months for me because I’ve been at the company eleven years.
What it actually is, is notification. They’re telling me when I am actually terminated. For me, it’s four months from now – the end of July, in fact. For someone who had worked there twelve years or more, it would extend to the end of September. With full pay.
Now, the trick is, in those four months, they can actually make me work if they need me to. I get ten days to “job hunt”, but the rest of it I am officially on the clock. They don’t usually make an employee do that, because it’s cruel and unsual and what employee would do a good job with that sort of motivation? I would have thought, with a choice between getting paid to do nothing and getting paid to do some project that has nothing but firing at the end, the choice is clear.
You probably see where I’m heading with this.
So, our head of department claimed not to have any idea the firing was coming when she sent me the message, and at this point it doesn’t much matter. The project was kicking off, and they have literally no writers left.
So I could refuse to take the work on, and tank the project as a final “fuck you”, or I could do the work for the four-to-eight weeks it seemed to require, and see what happened.
 Actually pretty easy, before even going into the various medical leaves I could take. Our employee representative said I should walk.
So that’s how I ended up back on a full-time project for the next six weeks or so, while still being fired.
The thing is, I thought about it. I thought about how easy it would be to walk. To play the colostomy card. To make them pay me the full four months out of their own department’s margins, rather than billing half of it to a customer from whom we might get some more work in time.
 It’s not a card you want to play often. It’s nuclear.
But it didn’t feel right. It felt like I was being intentionally malicious, and unethical. It also felt like a bit of a stupid move, to leave the proverbial Lionbridge burning behind me while also disappointing a potential customer. Because if the work goes well, there’s a huge volume that might come my way in the future. And, of course, it looks good for my references, and it’s another customer and set of documentation work on my CV.
I agreed to the meeting, and agreed to the project, and it felt good. Then our country manager sent out the notification that I was fired to the joint departments. Which was good for a bit of a gallows-laugh as I saw how confused and outraged everyone was. It was touching to see the high regard in which I’m held.
Well, I’m not at work today. I took a token “fuck you” day, and everyone said that was fine. So today I’m going to get a little drunk, watch Batman and Superman beat each other up, and then tomorrow – we party.