It’s a situation nobody wants to believe will happen to them, but in a turbulent economy one must always remain vigilant with regards to employment. It’s not impossible for a company, thriving in times past, to suddenly nosedive and experience financial hardship. As companies work to stay afloat, cuts in the budget must be made, and sometimes that unfortunately includes easing the burden on payroll.
So what should you do in the event you are let go from your company? First thing to remember: keep a clear head. Some may tend to panic or stress over the future – paying bills and rent or mortgage, and the basic expenses – but as you are just receiving this news it is better to think calmly and rationally before you act.
Depending on the size of your company, you will likely receive some counsel from Human Resources, along with information on your severance package – if you receive one. Know what your rights are with regards to severance, and find out how much you will receive and how long the company will continue keeping you on their insurance plan before you are cut. If your workplace has been paying into a 401K for you, assuredly that will come to and end, and you will need to know your options with regards to rolling it over into an IRA or cashing out. Because tax penalties could be involved in the decision you make, listen to what the HR manager advises as your best move.
It is strongly recommended, once you have left work for good, to file for unemployment insurance. This is another thing to discuss with Human Resources, as there may be restrictions to applying for such benefits as you receive severance. Usually, however, a company will not interfere with any claims, but it’s best to make certain. Because it could take several days, even weeks, to process an application, you will want to contact your state’s employment commission offices the day you know you are eligible.
Research your rights and expectations when you sign on for unemployment. State laws will vary, but on average a downsized worker could receive benefits for as long as six months, provided he meets the requirements to receive them and is actively looking for work.
Above all else, don’t panic, and remain positive. For many people, unemployment is only a temporary situation. Assess your options with regards to finding work, or even attending school to become more employable, and take advantage of any special programs and benefits open to you in this time.