10 things to do if you’re laid off

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but we have to let you go.”

Even when you know it’s happening, being fired can be a shock. You may feel angry, scared, blindsided, or even rejected. Maybe you never saw it coming. It may seem personal even if you are part of a large company, such as those in the technology industry which are currently experiencing a wave of layoffs.

However, no matter how bad your situation is, remember this: you are not helpless. The most important thing to do first is to stay calm and remember that you have options.

10 things to do if you’re laid off

Here are 10 helpful tips to help you get through a layoff.

1. Don’t Panic: Breathe

Acknowledge that you have just experienced a shock in your system. You’re not the first person this has happened to, and you won’t be the last. It’s easy to fall into the “Oh no, what do I do now?” mindset. But it’s not something you have to solve in 15 minutes.

Even if you were caught off guard in a meeting, you can excuse yourself to pause and pull yourself together. Pausing for several slow, deep breaths may sound cliché, but it’s a great way to calm your nerves. Tell yourself that everything will be fine (because you will).

Once you’ve pulled yourself together, there are a few things to take care of next. The rest can wait.

2. Check your documents

Before exploring what municipal, state, or federal protections you have, review internal company documents that outline your rights as an employee.

These include:

  • Contract or contract of employment
  • employee handbook
  • Union agreements or settlements

Email yourself copies of these documents (if possible). Also keep any emails or other documents that change any of these agreements.

3. Don’t sign in haste

Your employer may pressure you to immediately sign a termination agreement, which means receiving your paycheck, accrued vacation, or other benefits depends on your signing.

This is not the case. A separation agreement is a legal document that can be negotiated or reviewed by your attorney. Some states have laws that require your employer to give their employees time to review this agreement.

Federal Law does not require your employer to issue your final paycheck immediately, but you usually must be paid by the next payday. Some states also have additional requirements. For example, suppose your contract or employee handbook offers other benefits, such as payment for accrued vacation or severance pay. In this case, this salary cannot be withheld because you have not signed a severance agreement.

4. Negotiate if you can

It can be tough in the heat of the moment, but if your company is willing to negotiate termination terms, think about what you want. This may include:

  • Additional severance pay
  • Additional months of medical coverage
  • Letter of recommendation (useful in some industries, but not all) or recommendation
  • Career guidance or job search assistance
  • stock options

If you were not terminated for cause but terminated or furloughed, you can request a letter stating why you are terminated.

5. Know the laws and your rights

Some states may require severance pay or a notice period when employees are terminated or furloughed. This may vary depending on the size of your organization. Californiafor example, requires employers to provide 60 days written notice before collective redundancies. To find the rules in your state, check your state’s Department of Labor website.

If you suspect that you are being terminated due to discrimination based on your age, gender, religion or other legally protected class, consider consulting with an employment attorney and your state’s Department of Labor. Keep in mind that some states have additional protected classes in addition to those listed in federal law.

6. Unemployment file

If you receive severance pay, which may delay your unemployment benefits, file it as soon as possible. Processing your unemployment benefits may take some time. However, there is no shame in filing for unemployment insurance; you and your employer paid it (directly or indirectly) for that very reason.

When applying for unemployment benefits, you must:

  • Have earned a living wage during the base period.
  • Being totally or partially unemployed.
  • Being unemployed through no fault of your own.
  • Be physically fit to work.
  • Be available to work.
  • Be ready and willing to accept work immediately.

7. Arrange for health care

Unless you have other coverage (for example, through a spouse or domestic partner) or your employer agrees to pay your health insurance premiums, you will generally have two options for healthcare coverage:

  1. Continue on your employer’s health care plan with COBRA. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, allows you to stay on your employer’s health care plan for 18 months. Chances are your premiums and deductibles will increase, possibly significantly, because your employer will almost certainly stop paying some of your premiums.
  2. Sign up for Obamacare (Affordable Care Act). Obamacare may be a better option, especially if your state has a robust healthcare market. State-by-state advice is free and available from the federal government. However, there are time limits, so don’t delay this process.

8. Review your finances

Now is the time to review your current expenses and sources of income. Are there any expenses you can reduce or eliminate temporarily? Do you have a side hustle or part-time job that can be expanded? Can friends, relatives, or community or religious organizations provide financial or emotional support?

9. Get your job search together

While it may or may not seem like one, it may be an opportunity to rethink your career. Are you ready to try something new? Do you have transferable skills that you can use in another job or industry?

If you are unsure or need additional help, an employment consultant, recruiter or trusted friend can be a valuable resource.

Keep in mind that recruiters and consultants are professionals who help employers and potential employees connect. They are not therapists. The place to talk about your feelings about your layoff is with your friends or a mental health professional.

10. Maximize your resources

Use all the tools at your disposal to land your next job. Even if you graduated years ago, consider reaching out to your college/university/alumni associations and job boards. And, of course, network, network, network. There’s no shame in telling people you’re available. Professional organizations and corporations can also be great sources of job leads and essential industry information. If you prefer to stay in the same industry, research industry and networking events and make connections.

If it helps you, keep in touch with your colleagues as well. If anyone understands what you’re going through, it’s them. They may also have ideas and resources that can help.

Again, always remember that regardless of the reason you were fired, you control the next step in your career. Whether it’s finding a similar position or looking for something new, the power is in your hands.

To help you make all the decisions you need to make if you are made redundant, speak to a Facet Wealth CFP® professional today.

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