In English, we have 2 distinct words for describing the loss of a job

  • Getting fired
  • Getting laid off

The former implies that the action was the fault of the employee, while the later implies that the action was the fault of the company.

But when I was trying to translate laid off in Russian, the result it gave me was уволен, which is the same as getting fired.

Does this distinction exist in Russian? If you say уволен, is the context more like getting fired or getting laid off?

  • 1
    Not an "answer" (but I don't have reputation to comment); instead a tip. An alternative to using google translate as a starting point is wordreference.com. That has dictionary references, and also is annotated by human contributors. Until machine learning gets better, that may have results that are more reasonable. E.g., http://www.wordreference.com/ruen/сократить. Oct 19, 2018 at 22:46

2 Answers 2


Уволить - It is the verb that describes the action taken by the company, it does not actually specify whose fault it is.
Был уволен - Was fired by the company.
Уволился - Left the company by his own will.
Уйти с работы - Common expression for describing the situation when an employee leaves the company by his own will.

There is also "отчисление" - but this is suitable for education.

  • 1
    сокращение - вполне себе существующее слово
    – shabunc
    Oct 19, 2018 at 13:27

For "laid off", Russian has the somewhat jargony-sounding, but very commonly used, сократить. It properly refers to staff cuts (сократить штат), which is why this "laid off" usage applied to a single employee (e.g. меня сократили) is slightly jarring for the inner purist, as well as a little absurd in the imagery it invokes, but that's still how you say it.

  • When you say "jarring for the inner purist", could you elaborate on what you mean by this? Also, could you please translate сократить in your answer. I was able to google it, but google translate is often wrong so it would help people like me who are still learning. Thanks!
    – nmg49
    Oct 19, 2018 at 15:46
  • 1
    @nmg49: technically, сократить штат means "to cut staff": the company was employing ten engineers and then made a decision to only employ five and let the other five go. It's a legal term with quite a strict meaning, besides other things. A layoff may be caused by other things: the company's license might be suspended, a decision was made to replace the workforce with cheaper and less qualified people, etc. A court would not qualify all that as a staff cut, however people who got laid off like this would likely use the word сократили when talking of termination of their employment.
    – Quassnoi
    Oct 19, 2018 at 16:00
  • And сократили + smbd is a metonymy, it's the staff size which gets cut, not the person.
    – Quassnoi
    Oct 19, 2018 at 16:01
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    @nmg49 I think сократить (кого-то) / быть сокращённым / меня (её, их...) сократили are just a colloquialisms. The more complete (as well as more correct) way of saying the same things would be уволить (кого-то) по сокращению / быть уволенным по сокращению / меня (её, их...) уволили по сокращению (also …по сокращению штата). Colloquial speech tends to use shorter forms of expression, hence we often say (and hear) just сократить / сокращён / сократили.
    – Andriy M
    Oct 19, 2018 at 18:21
  • @nmg49: сократить is "to make (someone) redundant".
    – tum_
    Oct 19, 2018 at 21:27

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