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Layoffs at tech giants Twitter and Meta this week have affected thousands — and they’re just the latest example in a downsizing trend that’s already underway. across the industry.
The news has put the spotlight on what rights do employees have under mass layoffs. Although laws regarding layoffs vary by location and size of employer, there are steps anyone can take to help with layoffs.
Additionally, dealing with the emotions surrounding a layoff is probably the hardest part for most people, but these three steps will at least help you protect yourself financially as you think about what’s next in your work life.
If you have gotten a notice that you are being terminated, experts recommend checking that your employer has complied with the law.
Jobs in the U.S. are typically “at will,” meaning companies can let employees go at any time. But companies have some responsibilities.
In the case of mass layoffs for large firms, companies that meet certain criteria are required by federal law to provide workers 60 days’ notice. The WARN LAW It is intended to provide sufficient time for the workforce to find employment or retraining opportunities before losing their job.
While employees can be fired for any reason, they cannot be released for illegal reasons. “I sometimes see a person fired,” said Kellee Boulais Kruse, principal at Employment Law Group, based in Washington, DC “That’s a little suspicious.”
For example, if an employee who has just been laid off recently revealed that they were sexually harassed, have a disability or are going to have a baby, it could be an illegal firing. Small layoffs get more scrutiny, but with large layoffs it’s hard to prove individuals were targeted if entire positions were let go.
Don’t wait to consult with an attorney if you think you have a case, Kruse said.
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The employer is are not required by federal law to offer severancebut if they do that the contract can often be negotiated.
Companies offer severance to maintain goodwill with former employees, protect employees from disclosing company secrets and avoid lawsuits. Severance agreements usually come with a waiver of liability that must be signed before any payments are made.
Do not rush to sign the agreement. Although it varies based on the employee’s age and state laws, employees are usually given a few weeks before they must register. “If someone thinks they were fired or fired for an illegal reason, they should talk to an attorney before signing,” Kruse said.
There may be room for negotiation. Often the amount of pay is set, but try to get the maximum that matches your experience and tenure with the company. Other benefits may be available to those who ask.
“Negotiate for continued health insurance if possible, and see if your employer will cover your premiums while you receive severance,” he said. Alexandra Carterprofessor at Columbia Law School and author of “Ask for More: 10 Questions to Negotiate Anything.”
Outplacement services, resume assistance and coaching can also be something that employers can help arrange. Some companies may let you keep your work-issued laptop or cell phone if you ask.
Ask for references. There’s no shame in being laid off, but if your layoff wasn’t a high-profile event, you can ask your former employer for a letter or email stating that you were laid off and not fired for cause or performance.
“You are still a legitimate person, a good contributor [and] you’ll find it somewhere else,” said Eric McNulty, associate director National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard University.
Be brave in reaching out to people you don’t know well, he says. “Research shows that your loose network, extended connections will be more beneficial to you than your direct connections, simply because they have more opportunities that you have never heard of.