Losing a Job
Lay-offs happen even to the best of workers perhaps when the economy weakens, companies merge, companies downsize, employers adopt new technologies, and other changes occur. Hopefully a lay off will never happen, but if it does, it's important to be aware of resources and benefits possibly available - especially if the lay off is a permanent one.
In this section let's explore possible assistance options and what you need to do to prepare!
Possible Help and Benefits
Getting Laid Off Contents:
The day you receive a lay off notice or "pink slip" may seem like the worst day of your life. No matter how prepared you might have been for the inevitable, it still comes as a shock. You may react with mixed emotions -- anger, insecurity, jealousy, resentment, and a host of other emotions. At this point, you either feel you want to retreat or explode. Or maybe you are one of those people who feels the lay off is a blessing in disguise!
After the initial shock wears off, it's important to start planning immediately. The following steps are essential:
___ 1. Plan your budget for the next 6 to 12 months.
___ 2. Begin Job Searching
long before your final day on the job. Don't wait to the
___ 3. Contact any state agencies (like VR) that may be able to help.
___ 4. Don't take the lay off
personally, and don't get discouraged. View the
___ 5. Determine and arrange
unemployment benefits if you qualify. Find out
___ 6. Meet with
employers. Apply for jobs with your best foot forward.
What are outplacement services?
If you're dismissed from a job, your employer may offer you outplacement services provided by a contracted firm. Outplacement services are assistance services for employees leaving a company. Employees are provided with support services to assist with their job search activities.
What services do they provide?
Outplacement consultants do not find you a job, but they offer a variety of support and guidance services that may include:
What if outplacement services are not offered by my employer?
Ask the supervisor who gave you the dismissal notice if outplacement services are provided and available through the company. Ask your employer these questions:
Some employers give laid off workers an additional salary in order to provide workers with a "financial cushion" while they search for new jobs. Employers are not required to provide severance pay, but some do when possible.
Depending on company policies, employers might pay laid off workers for their unused sick leave, vacation time, and other accrued benefits when employment ends. Check written company policies carefully to see if workers may be entitled to payments for accrued fringe benefits.
The federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires employers to offer former employees the option of continuing individual and family group health insurance coverage at the employees' own expense for up to 18 months when employment ends.
To learn more about COBRA, see the Medical Coverage Information section of this guide.
Some employers may offer job search services and support to laid off workers. Services might include counseling, resume preparation, career guidance, job skills training, and other employment-related services.
Also, the state Vocational Rehabilitation Division, Commission for the Blind, or Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation Services may be able to help if you qualify for their services. Contact your nearest state agency office for information.
Unemployment insurance compensation (payment) programs, funded by employer taxes, are operated by the federal government and states to provide income to qualified unemployed workers. To qualify, workers must:
States set the minimum and maximum amounts of payments workers can collect, and the maximum amount of time workers can collect unemployment insurance payments. Additional time may be possible if legislative changes are made during periods of high unemployment, for example.
To file a claim, contact the local state's Unemployment Insurance office. Offices are listed in the state government section of the telephone book. State unemployment offices are also listed and linked at the Department of Labor's web site:
When filing a claim, be sure to take needed documents (paperwork) that shows your work history. Take along:
If necessary, it might be possible to withdraw emergency money from a personal retirement plan. Contact the retirement plan administrator for information.
It's important to note financial advisors do not recommend withdrawing retirement funds as those funds will likely be needed for retirement income in later years. If funds from the retirement plan are needed for an emergency, withdraw as little from the fund as possible.
The federal food stamp program, financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides food stamps to people who have lost their income, or to those whose income has been substantially reduced.
Local human services agencies, like the Adult and Family Services Division, issue food stamps to qualified individuals. To find out which agencies provide food stamps in your area, contact the local U.S. Department of Agriculture office or go to their web site:
State Human Services offices can also provide helpful referral information.
People who remain chronically unemployed may be eligible for welfare benefits administered through a designated state human services agency. In Oregon, welfare benefits are administered through the state Adult and Family Services Division.
Local offices are available throughout the state, and office locations are listed in the telephone book in the state government section.
In recent years across the country, state welfare benefit programs have undergone numerous legislative changes, and eligibility criteria and benefits provided vary greatly from state to state. Most programs now have set time limits for receiving benefits and specific criteria that must be met for continuing to receive benefits.
For eligibility and program information, and to apply for benefits, contact the nearest local office in your area.
Social Security Income (SSI) may be available to individuals with a disability who meet SSI eligibility criteria. SSI does not require that the individual with a disability has paid into the Social Security program through an employer. Individuals unable to earn an income may qualify for SSI income and medical program benefits.
If you were a previous SSI beneficiary, you may not have to reapply if you become unemployed during a specific time period.
Social Security Administration offices are located throughout the state. Office locations are listed in the federal government section of the telephone book, or at the Social Security Administration web site:
Contact the nearest local Social Security Administration office or their web site for information.
The U.S. Department of Labor Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program provides financial assistance to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster declared by the President of the United States. Assistance is only available to individuals who do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits (either State or Federal benefits).
For information regarding eligibility requirements, benefits available, and instructions for filing a claim, visit the following web site:
The Oregon Employment Department JOBS Plus Program provides a 13-week work experience for Unemployment Insurance claimants only.
Benefits to participants include opportunities to increase competitiveness within the labor market, market personal abilities and skills to employers, receive wages while being trained, build an Individual Education Account, and other benefits. Employers have the opportunity to observe a participant before hiring for a permanent position, custom-train the participant, receive wage reimbursement, and apply for a federal tax credit.
For further information, visit the following web site:
The Oregon Self-Employment Assistance Program helps eligible unemployed workers set up a business on a full-time basis and still receive full unemployment benefits.
For information about this program, visit the following web site:
This Guide from the U.S. Department of Labor assists employees in transition due to federal government downsizing. Information is available on retirement, buyouts, and reductions in force (RIFs). Links are also available to job and career resources featuring transition tools and guides.
Are you concerned you may be dismissed? Or have you already been dismissed? Hopefully the following questions and answers will provide information you need!
Why do workers get fired?
People can be fired from jobs for a variety of reasons. Some common reasons why employers dismiss workers may be due to:
How does a person get fired?
Although an employer can fire a person immediately, perhaps for stealing or another serious reason, most employers give advance warning verbally and/or in writing to allow the employee an opportunity to make improvements before dismissal. This is called a probationary period.
When a warning is given, it's definitely the time to make changes and improvements needed. If improvements are made, the employer will "lift" the probation after a set period of time. However, if the problem persists, the employee is usually dismissed.
Some companies have steps and procedures spelled out in their employee handbook. Check to see if your company has a set of procedures in place.
If I get a verbal or written warning, what should I do?
First, be sure you know exactly what aspects of your work performance are not up to par and need to be improved.
Second, be sure you understand exactly what you need to do to show improvement. How will improvement be measured? What are the supervisor's expectations? What does the supervisor consider acceptable? Be sure to get answers to these questions!
What if I feel the supervisor's allegation is wrong?
First, carefully examine and consider the supervisor's allegation and determine if there is truth. If the allegation really is legitimate, focus your attention on making improvements needed.
If, however, you are certain the allegation is wrong, consider writing a letter of clarification for your personnel file.
If I feel I'm being discriminated against, what should I do?
If you sense you are going to be unfairly dismissed, document and date communications, meetings, incidents, events, and any relevant occurrence or communication. Be sure to save written records you've received. You may also ask to see your personnel file and make copies of relevant work documents, including work evaluations, reports, and other relevant materials. Such documentation will be helpful and necessary should legal action become involved.
Also, try to get a written explanation from your employer stating the reason (or reasons) you were fired. This serves two purposes: 1) it helps clarify the reason, and 2) it will provide you with documentation if the reason for dismissal is found to be discriminatory.
Can I get unemployment compensation if I'm fired?
You can certainly apply for benefits, but whether or not you'll qualify will depend on a number of factors.
If you file a claim for unemployment compensation, the state's Unemployment Insurance office will contact your employer to inquire about your claim and the reason(s) for your dismissal. You usually need to prove you've been dismissed for reasons beyond your control.
For information, contact your state's local Unemployment Insurance office. They can provide you with information to help determine if you may qualify.
When I apply for a new job, how should I respond if I'm asked if I've been fired from a previous job?
If questions about a previous dismissal are asked, consider the following suggestions:
What about references? Should I use the name of the supervisor who fired me as a reference when I apply for jobs?
The general rule of thumb is to give names of past employers who will give you a good recommendation. If you feel the former supervisor who dismissed you will give you a good recommendation, then that's fine. If you're doubtful, consider other work references.
If you experience a work-related injury or illness, hopefully the following questions and answers will help!
If I'm unable to work due to an injury or illness, what benefits could I qualify for?
If your injury or illness is work-related, you may qualify for workers' compensation coverage. You might also qualify for other benefits, including Social Security Disability Income and Unemployment Compensation.
Also, the Family Medical Leave Act allows an employee to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a year due to a serious health condition that prevents the employee from working. For more information on the Family and Medical Leave Act, see the Workplace Laws section of this guide.
What is Workers' Compensation?
Workers' Compensation provides replacement income and coverage for medical expenses if an employee becomes injured or ill on the job. Employers need to pay insurance premiums to the Workers' Compensation program for workers to qualify. Workers' Compensation is a national program, but it's administered by individual states through state agencies.
Are part-time and full-time employees covered under Workers' Compensation?
Generally, anyone who is considered a part-time or full-time worker according to the IRS is covered.
However, there are exceptions when it comes to certain groups of workers who may not be covered, including federal workers and employees working for very small employers who do not have to pay into the workers' compensation system. Other groups often excluded include volunteers, farm workers, and domestic workers.
Basically, if your employer pays into the workers' compensation system, you're covered.
If my employer doesn't pay into the workers' compensation program and I become injured, what are my options?
If you're not covered by workers' compensation, you might be able to receive coverage and assistance through available company policies, such as paid sick leave. In some cases, it might involve going through arbitration or mediation, or involve legal action.
If I'm injured on the job, what should I do?
First, get medical care if needed, then immediately notify your employer. Your employer will likely have claim forms that you'll have to fill out. Give these forms to your employer. Your employer needs to submit the forms to the employer's insurance carrier. You or your employer will also need to submit a separate claim form to the state's Workers' Compensation office.
What if I can't return to my job?
If your injury or illness prevents you from returning to your job, and you need to be retrained, you may qualify for vocational rehabilitation services paid for by workers' compensation. Services might include job training and related education.
What if I become permanently disabled?
Depending on the severity of your work-related disability, you may qualify for a lump-sum payment from workers' compensation. The amount will depend on the nature and extent of your injury, and if you are able or unable to work.
If I file a workers' compensation claim, will I risk losing my job?
No. Most states, including Oregon and Washington, have laws prohibiting retaliation against employees who file a claim.
If you have a disability and become unemployed, you may qualify for employment-related assistance from the following state agencies. Contact your local agency office for information. These web sites will direct you!
State Vocational Rehabilitation
State Commission for the Blind
Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation