Think You May Be Laid Off? Things to Do Before Exiting the Building!
According to the recent U.S. Department of Labor Report
, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed Americans were essentially unchanged in September. But, according to Fortune magazine, U.S. companies laid off 58,877 workers in September, an increase of 43% from August. If you have concerns about job security and are witnessing some of the warning signs of an impending layoff, here are some tips to follow should you find yourself in this position.
Get Your Contacts
Before you leave the premises, obtain contact information for everyone in your network — industry peers, colleagues and coworkers. In some situations, employees are escorted from the meeting directly to the exit door. But many companies permit employees to return to their desks to collect personal items. When doing so, make getting your contacts a priority. Having your network is critical for getting started with a new job search.
Get it in Writing
Request a written document regarding your termination before you leave. This letter should state that you were laid off, the effective date, and also list the dates of your employment. Having this piece of paper in hand when visiting the local unemployment office will assist you with the unemployment process and speed up receipt of your unemployment checks.
Your Last Paycheck
You earned your last paycheck so ask for it before you leave. Employers are not required by federal law to give former employees their final paycheck immediately but some states may require immediate payment. If the regular payday for the last pay period you worked has passed and you have not been paid, contact the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division or the State Labor Department.
If you are receiving severance, request the terms of the severance package in writing. Inquire as to any unpaid bonuses or pay increases that have not been processed as well as any time off that you are entitled to, which may include accrued sick days or vacation time.
Don’t Leave Without Your COBRA Information
Make sure you get your COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) information from Human Resources before you leave. This document should reflect the date that your insurance coverage will cease and your termination date. COBRA requires that continuation coverage be offered to covered employees, their spouses, former spouses, and dependent children when group health coverage would otherwise be lost due to certain specific events. While COBRA continuation coverage is often more expensive than the amount that active employees are required to pay for group health coverage, it is worth considering if you do not have other coverage.
Letter of Recommendation
Depending upon the circumstances surrounding the layoff, it may be appropriate to ask for a letter of recommendation. If the layoff is due to the company’s financial situation or the sale of a business unit that you work in and is in no way related to performance, then immediately ask your boss if they can be used as a reference. Politely request that the letter notes your strong performance and states that the departure is due to the company’s financial position. Accept any additional help that is offered, including endorsements on LinkedIn or contacts at other companies. Set your personal feelings aside and keep the lines of communication open. Avoid burning those proverbial bridges when you leave.