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Advice please for someone who might be laid off


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My 46 yo brother is the #4 guy at a smallish ~70 person company.  He has been there for over 20 years and just got word from #2 & #3  that he might be laid off by the owner.  #2 & #3 have tried to reason with the owner and realizes this is unfair but the owner is stubborn and may have already made up his mind.

If my bro is laid off, any advice for how he handles the meeting?  He's an at will employee in Maryland.  Is he entitled to any severance?

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I think the why is an important part of the equation that is missing. What happened? Why is the owner pissed? How did it get to this point?

Edited by Hawks64
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5 minutes ago, Hawks64 said:

I think the why is an important part of the equation that is missing. What happened? Why is the owner pissed? How did it to this point?

The owner is tough to work for and doesn't verbalize well.  Apparently, he is unhappy with some of the work by my bro but isn't able to describe exactly what's wrong or to describe exactly what he wants.  #2 & #3 confirm this and have tried to reason with the owner to no avail.  Also, the company is struggling a little financially and the owner is looking to cut costs.

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Gl, chet brother.

Getting laid off sucks. Entitled to severance? Unless it's in his contract, he's entitled to whatever the boss wants to give him. I've had friends get anywhere from a full year to bupkis. I'm not familiar with "at will employee" so not sure if that means he should at least get unemployment. I'm usually an independent contractor- no unemployment. I'd start hitting up headhunters immediately, even if he doesn't get fired.

As far as the meeting...I guess just be prepared to state his case with easily quantifiable support,  listen, respond and don't burn any bridges.

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Would think it's best your bro keeps his cool and lets them lay him off.  At least then he should get unemployment.  If he gets fed up and ups and quit I don't think he will be eligible for that

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7 minutes ago, chet said:

The owner is tough to work for and doesn't verbalize well.  Apparently, he is unhappy with some of the work by my bro but isn't able to describe exactly what's wrong or to describe exactly what he wants.  #2 & #3 confirm this and have tried to reason with the owner to no avail.  Also, the company is struggling a little financially and the owner is looking to cut costs.

That is indeed rough, sorry to hear. I would expect to see some kind of severance but unless he has a contract/agreement in writing he's at the whim of the owner.

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17 minutes ago, El Floppo said:

 I'm not familiar with "at will employee"

In an "at will" State an employee can be fired for any reason (other than because of age, race, etc,) or no reason at all. An employer doesn't need cause.

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It sucks but almost everyone I know (myself included) ended up in a better place afterwards.  Sometimes a severance is just the kick in the pants you need to advance your career.

 

ETA: 20 years at the same place means he probably has gotten complacent but also he is a desirable employee - the kind of guy who will stick around and his previous employer valued enough to keep him around that long.

Edited by moleculo
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In my world, we are seeing many smaller companies who got a lifeline through a PPP loan and are now in a position where they probably would have been 6 months ago without that help.  They may have trimmed some fat the past few months, and are now cutting into the muscle and closer to the bone, particularly for higher-compensated, long-term employees.  I would tell him the same advice I give every employee in this situation.  Resist the urge to say what you really want to say.  Be gracious and professional, don't burn bridges. You have no idea how important these relationships may be down the road, and want to go out with your head held high.

There may be some legal considerations, but that would be highly dependent on specifics not provided here.  In most cases, things like notice, severance, referrals, etc. are entirely at the employer's discretion.

Sorry to hear this Chet - GL to your brother.

 

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1 hour ago, belljr said:

Laid off or fired?

 

1 hour ago, chet said:

Probably laid off.  No cause to fire him.  

Semantics I suppose. If the position is not being re-filled, lay off is probably correct. The employee is not entitled to any compensation, completely up to the owner. He should be able to get unemployment. 

 

GL to him. 

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Maryland link about severance and unemployment

Saw another article that basically said no severance required in Maryland unless it was specified in a contract.

The above link also should get related links about collecting unemployment (if your bro does get severance they are not entitled to get the unemployment benefits until after the severance).

If there is an employee handbook that would probably outline that stuff - if the firm has one.  

GL to your bro

-QG

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1 hour ago, eoMMan said:

20 years at a single company is rare these days.

Average tenure in my building is ~20 years, at least before we added a bunch of people in the last year (i.e. nobody left).

As far as severance, the brother should certainly push for it, particularly if his knowledge would be valuable to a competitor.  These kind of things can be negotiated.

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1 hour ago, CletiusMaximus said:

In my world, we are seeing many smaller companies who got a lifeline through a PPP loan and are now in a position where they probably would have been 6 months ago without that help.  They may have trimmed some fat the past few months, and are now cutting into the muscle and closer to the bone, particularly for higher-compensated, long-term employees.  I would tell him the same advice I give every employee in this situation.  Resist the urge to say what you really want to say.  Be gracious and professional, don't burn bridges. You have no idea how important these relationships may be down the road, and want to go out with your head held high.

There may be some legal considerations, but that would be highly dependent on specifics not provided here.  In most cases, things like notice, severance, referrals, etc. are entirely at the employer's discretion.

Sorry to hear this Chet - GL to your brother.

 

This right here.  Whatever, do not quit, it’ll  help with unemployment benefits.  Next thing is to network, get the word out.  Also, don’t bash them on Facebook.  It’s a bad look, and future employers may determine they don’t want the drama of work issues on social media.

Edited by FairWarning
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Ask for details on the why, mainly so he can learn from it. Don’t assume the boss is wrong to fire him, instead have an open mind and seek to learn. Wish the boss well, let him know you enjoyed working for him and the company and hope your paths cross again. 
 

I did the above last time I was laid off. Sure enough within 5 years I was working with the guy again at a different company, and he specifically said he’s never forgotten that and we are good friends 

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Not said but and may be obvious, but update the resume. If he’s been there 20 years, good chance he may not even have a resume. Thinking through his routine duties and responsibilities is easier while still working than trying to remember it all later. Getting help from someone that is good with resumes is probably wise for someone that hasn’t had to have one for 20 years. 

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45 minutes ago, GroveDiesel said:

Not said but and may be obvious, but update the resume. If he’s been there 20 years, good chance he may not even have a resume. Thinking through his routine duties and responsibilities is easier while still working than trying to remember it all later. Getting help from someone that is good with resumes is probably wise for someone that hasn’t had to have one for 20 years. 

Yeah I was in this boat as I had basically been working as a result of my network for a long time so had an outdated resume.  And he should definitely look for the transferable skills in his background - it's easy to get fixated on the industry you have been in and not realize that certain skills go well across a variety of roles.

-QG

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I've gone through this twice now, here is my advice:

  1. File for unemployment whether he gets a severance or not.  Do so immediately after termination...like that day or the next.  Every state is different, but they typically take a week or two to get you through the initial process and start getting checks.  His employers have paid in to this for him during his whole career, so take advantage of it.
  2. Build a resume and start thinking about what you WANT to do.  If there is an idea of a career change or a certain type of job he wants, NOW is the time to do it.  Some people will never take that step unless given a push.  This is that push.
  3. Look at companies/organizations you are interested in.  Go to their website and poke around for any contacts you may have there.  A lot of jobs don't ever get posted on public job search forums, so you may have to push the door open a bit to get consideration.  This is often a longer road to hiring, but it can be worth it for the right organization.
  4. Stay active, as in don't grow a beard and watch TV all day.  Get some exercise, do a project around the house, learn Spanish, start working on a side gig (I started refereeing basketball and football 10 years ago while between jobs and it was one of the best things I've ever done).  This is mostly so depression doesn't set in, because being unemployed puts you in a high risk category for depression.
  5. Be patient.  Kind of goes with #4, but keep in mind that job searches are mostly a waiting game.  Even companies that are actively hiring will sometimes take weeks to bring you in for an interview.  You are beholden to their schedule, so again, stay busy (but flexible).

That is kind of my basic framework.  There are a hundred little steps to take, but those would be more specific to his situation.

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7 minutes ago, Apple Jack said:

Start looking now, while still employed. The difference between looking while employed vs. unemployed is substantial.

Normally, I'd say so, but in this environment a lot of good people are not working.  Still, not a bad idea to start now, just don't worry if you have to let people know the truth.

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If he does get let go, he should start networking with everyone he knows. You never know when someone will mention they are aware of an opening. Does he have any type of an employee agreement or non-compete agreement? 

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Lots of really good advice in here. 
 

I’ll keep my advice simple: don’t burn the bridge. 

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35 minutes ago, Zow said:

Lots of really good advice in here. 
 

I’ll keep my advice simple: don’t burn the bridge. 

And don't bring any prior job negativity into interviews of course.

-QG

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On 3/4/2021 at 8:38 AM, chet said:

Probably laid off.  No cause to fire him.  

Well if he’s unhappy with his work there is cause. I’d check his original employee agreement to see what he’s entitled to.  Sorry to hear this. Never fun. 

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14 hours ago, wilked said:

Ask for details on the why, mainly so he can learn from it. Don’t assume the boss is wrong to fire him, instead have an open mind and seek to learn. Wish the boss well, let him know you enjoyed working for him and the company and hope your paths cross again. 
 

I did the above last time I was laid off. Sure enough within 5 years I was working with the guy again at a different company, and he specifically said he’s never forgotten that and we are good friends 

Man that is super mature/EQ thinking. No wonder you are successful 

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17 hours ago, Jayrod said:

I've gone through this twice now, here is my advice:

  1. File for unemployment whether he gets a severance or not.  Do so immediately after termination...like that day or the next.  Every state is different, but they typically take a week or two to get you through the initial process and start getting checks.  His employers have paid in to this for him during his whole career, so take advantage of it.
  2. Build a resume and start thinking about what you WANT to do.  If there is an idea of a career change or a certain type of job he wants, NOW is the time to do it.  Some people will never take that step unless given a push.  This is that push.
  3. Look at companies/organizations you are interested in.  Go to their website and poke around for any contacts you may have there.  A lot of jobs don't ever get posted on public job search forums, so you may have to push the door open a bit to get consideration.  This is often a longer road to hiring, but it can be worth it for the right organization.
  4. Stay active, as in don't grow a beard and watch TV all day.  Get some exercise, do a project around the house, learn Spanish, start working on a side gig (I started refereeing basketball and football 10 years ago while between jobs and it was one of the best things I've ever done).  This is mostly so depression doesn't set in, because being unemployed puts you in a high risk category for depression.
  5. Be patient.  Kind of goes with #4, but keep in mind that job searches are mostly a waiting game.  Even companies that are actively hiring will sometimes take weeks to bring you in for an interview.  You are beholden to their schedule, so again, stay busy (but flexible).

That is kind of my basic framework.  There are a hundred little steps to take, but those would be more specific to his situation.

 

An add on to #4 - don't watch TV or go online for non-job hunt things before 6pm.

And then adding two:

6. Have job hunt related metrics - e.g. will research x companies per day/week, send y emails, z LinkedIn pings, etc.  Having metrics will let your brother not feel the need to job hunt 24x7.  Not relaxing a bit/not sleeping will not be helpful.

7. Send emails at night, make phone calls during the day.  Better chance to get a response to both than the inverse, as emails are less likely to get buried at night, and phone calls to work lines are more likely to be answered during the day.

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Severance usually hinges on whether he's being let go for performance or they're eliminating the role due to efficiency savings or financial reasons.  If they're eliminating the role, he would usually get severance to help him get along until he can get another job.  If it's performance based and the boss just doesn't want him there, I would say more often than not there is no severance.

 

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On 3/6/2021 at 2:35 AM, kardplayer said:

 

An add on to #4 - don't watch TV or go online for non-job hunt things before 6pm.

And then adding two:

6. Have job hunt related metrics - e.g. will research x companies per day/week, send y emails, z LinkedIn pings, etc.  Having metrics will let your brother not feel the need to job hunt 24x7.  Not relaxing a bit/not sleeping will not be helpful.

7. Send emails at night, make phone calls during the day.  Better chance to get a response to both than the inverse, as emails are less likely to get buried at night, and phone calls to work lines are more likely to be answered during the day.

8a. Signup or Update your LinkedIn info/profile   This is probably already a given, but needs to be put on the list.  And if you're not experienced, go talk to someone that is and have them suggest improvements.

8b. Signup for LinkedIn PREMIUM - the 1st 30 days are free, but after that it's $30/mth.  The Premium version will help in the search and will provide Key Search Terms that position is looking for, the # of applicants, est. commute, hiring trends at the company.  But the real big benefit to join the PREMIUM version is that you get access the 1,000's of video training courses for FREE at their sister website called:  LinkedIn Learning.  So the fact that he's probably been out of the resume/interview phase probably also means that he could stand to update some of his skills/knowledge.  This is something that could help put some current "buzzwords" on his resume  (soft skills like: "diversity", "emotional intelligence".........or hard skills:  Excel, powerpoint, or other software).  I have 2 certifications that i hold and i get to accumulate continuing education credits this way and $30 per month isn't too bad for the return.
At the very least, just sign up for the free 1st month and test drive it and cancel it if he wants.

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