Word of the Day for Tuesday, April 7, 2009:
เลิกจ้าง /'lə̂ək 'jâaŋ/ v. to lay off, dismiss (from one's employ)
This is a phrase that is becoming more and more prominent these days. If someone (or some group, as is sadly common) was laid off, you would say they ถูกเลิกจ้าง -- ถูก makes the phrase passive.
You can find numerous examples of เลิกจ้าง in an article from today's Matichon, for example. It reports that unemployed workers will begin demonstrating at Victory Monument today from 9:00am, in protest of recent mass layoffs. According to the report, 23,712 Thai factory workers have lost their jobs in the first quarter of 2009, and a further 2 million are expected to be laid off before the year is out.
The phrase เลิกจ้าง is used in contrast with ไล่ออก(จากงาน) "to fire, terminate" or ถูกไล่ออก(จากงาน) "to be fired, get fired", literally to be "chased out", which similarly to English typically means that the worker has done something to cause themselves to be fired, whether through misconduct, laziness, or otherwise. And both are different from ลาออก(จากงาน) "to quit, to resign", which means of course that the employee leaves of his own volition.
Note that without ออก, however, ลา also means to take temporary work leave: ลาป่วย "take sick leave", ลาคลอด "take maternity leave", ลาหยุด "take time off, take a leave of absence", and even ลาบวช "take ordination leave". Thai employers typically allow workers time off if they ordain to the priesthood.