Layoffs: What To Do Next

For the career-minded person, dealing with a layoff and not knowing what to do next can be a traumatic event. One of the most difficult circumstances is being laid off from a job, especially one that you enjoyed or that provided you with a certain lifestyle. If you are facing a layoff or you have recently been laid off from your job, then here are some things you need to do immediately following this event to protect yourself and your family.

Ask About a Severance Package

In challenging economic times, many employers are forgoing the standard two-week severance pay because of the costs involved. However, if you have been informed that you are losing your job through a layoff, you do have the right to ask for a severance package which may include additional pay, extended benefits and employment assistance following the layoff. When you ask for a severance package, keep your demands reasonable and emphasize what you were able to bring to the department or team on which you've worked so hard over the course of your employment.

Find Out What Will Happen with Your Employee Benefits

The next question you need to ask your employer is what to expect as far as your employee benefits which may include medical coverage, life insurance, employee assistance programs and disability benefits. Get a definite cut-off date for your coverage so that you can determine when you will need to decide on new insurance plans or take advantage of COBRA benefits. Find out who you can contact and get accurate contact information if you have any questions about your coverage.

How Does COBRA Work?

COBRA is a program that all US employees are eligible for who have received benefits from their employers. Within two weeks of your layoff, and before your regular benefits end, you should receive a COBRA package and letter which will explain your options as far as extending this coverage at a preferred rate for up to 18 months following your layoff date. If you do not receive this letter, call the human resources department at your former employer immediately.

Applying for Unemployment Benefits

The day after you get laid off, go to your local unemployment benefits agency and apply for unemployment insurance benefits for your region. You will be then given a hearing within 10-30 days which will determine if you are eligible for benefits and other programs offered by your county or city. Take advantage of all the free resources offered to you, including job search services, job training and educational benefits you can receive as an unemployed person.

What about Call-backs or Re-employment?

It is a good idea to keep in touch with your former employers after a lay off because many end up calling back former workers when business picks up. Let your employer know you are interested in coming back, even if it's just for part time or occasional work. You will still be able to collect unemployment insurance benefits for up to nine months and you will be more likely to be called back for full time work in the near future if you keep this door open with your former employer.