Yours, Etc.: Origins and Uses of 8 Sign-Offs
also lay-off, lay off; 1889, "rest, respite;" from lay (v.) + off. Via seasonal labor with periodic down time, it came to have a sense of "temporary release from employment," and by 1960s was being used somewhat euphemistically for permanent releases of masses of workers by employers. The verbal phrase lay off is attested from 1868 as "dismiss" (an employee); meaning "stop disturbing" is from 1908.
The temporary or permanent removal of a worker from his or her job, usually because of cutbacks in production or corporate reorganization.