by Kate Toner, Government Proposal Writer, The Adecco Group, Canada
The words are still hanging in the air because your brain is scrambling to comprehend them.
Completely unsuspected, the unthinkable is happening. The thing that happens to other people, not to you. The hushed tale told by a friend about a mutual acquaintance to which you shake your head and commiserate with a, “how terrible for them”.
Your ear listens to a myriad of other words being uttered and grasps the phrase, “it has nothing to do with your work.”
Your brain, now beating back the enzymes triggered by stress, pauses, looks towards your ear and nods in agreement.
“We will, of course, provide you an exceptional reference.”
Your brain on high alert now—functioning at optimal levels to control not only your hearing but potential inappropriate responses to stress—FREEZES.
YOU ARE BEING LET GO!
Now as a matter of course, it will seem as though your brain has stopped functioning entirely. This, however, is very untrue. Your brain is in the fight of its life assigning the correct emotional responses to these events, to ensure acceptable and appropriate behaviours are attributed to each particular and subsequent unfolding moment.
Still attempting to reign in your emotions, your brain will start firing inappropriate questions off the walls of your cranium. “What about Joe Smith? Is Joe Smith being let go too? Is my entire department being let go? Is it just me? Is this really happening?!?!?!?”
However, these are not the questions your brain should be asking. The questions your brain should be asking, it will only present to you in hindsight. This will be true for the vast majority unless perhaps: a) you have been through this situation before; b) someone close to you (like a spouse or friend) has told you in great detail about their own experience; or c) you happen to remember a blog you read on this very topic!
Your employer is letting you go. What are the ten things you should ask or do?
- Ask for time to review anything before signing.
Being let go from your place of employment is a stressful experience with an immediate and natural emotional response. If you are being asked to sign a document that has a lot of detail, or you want to ensure you understand it fully before agreeing to any terms, you should ask to take the document with you to read in a later state of calm—or perhaps after you have consulted a lawyer, the Employment Standards Act (ESA) in your province; or Federal Employment Standards (whichever applies to your employer’s jurisdiction). Many companies will provide you the time to do so, but with a specified date of when a response is expected from you.
If you feel confident in signing at that particular moment, for example if the document is only confirming that you have been advised of the company’s decision to let you go, but not necessarily agreeing to any terms, be sure to get a copy of the document you signed.
- Find out your end date.
Is the expectation that you are being walked off the premises directly after you have been told your employment is ending? Depending on the company’s policy, you may request to pick up personal belongings from your desk, or make arrangements to come back after hours. Be prepared to have a company representative with you as you pack up your things. Alternatively you could request that your employer go and get the items you need for that day, and agree to send your remaining personal items to your home address.
In some situations you may be asked to work through a notice period. Some questions to ask should be around expectations during this time. Are you going to be providing a transfer of knowledge? If you are client facing, are you expected to keep or cancel any meetings you had previously scheduled?
Additionally, it is important to know your exact end date in regards to your final pay. Some companies may consider you still as an employee while receiving any payments which may impact the beginning of your Employment Insurance (EI) benefits (if you are entitled to them).
- Ask if you will be considered for future employment with the company?
The role you are being let go from may simply cease to exist, your duties may be absorbed into another department. It is beneficial to clarify, especially if there is the possibility of another role in a different department or another location with the same company. Some companies have a policy not to rehire staff that has been let go, regardless of the circumstances.
- Are you getting any payments? How much and for how long?
This is an important financial planning question, because any payments made to you can also impact your Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits at the same time. Any payments you do receive will be taken into account by Service Canada. So while you may register for Employment Insurance, it may be a while before the Government deems it necessary to provide EI to you based any ongoing payments you are receiving from the employer.
Your payment information should be outlined in the letter/documentation you received. You may want to consult a lawyer, your province’s Employment Standards Act (ESA), or the Federal Employment Standards to ensure you are receiving the correct termination payments in accordance with legislation.
- What date will you be paid?
Your date of final payment should be in accordance with provincial legislation. Clarify with your employer when this will be, or check your local employment standards/labour code.
- What happens to commissions/bonus?
In some roles, your job may be a base salary plus a commission (sometimes referred to as a bonus) structure. Find out what happens to your commissions; when your commissions will be paid out; or if they will be prorated.
- When will your health insurance benefits end?
Generally the majority of current benefit entitlements are required by employment standards to continue during your notice period. You may want to speak to your HR department or the person responsible regarding insurance to clarify the policy’s terms and conditions.
- Will there be outplacement services?
While in Canada there is no legislation requiring an employer to provide outplacement services, some companies do offer outplacement services (potentially through a third party) as a means to ease your transition. Outplacement services may include career counselling, re-orientation into the job market, advice on resume writing and/or interviewing techniques, etc. This is beneficial if you have been a long-term employee and are entering the job market for the first time in a number of years.
- When will you receive your Record of Employment (ROE)? Follow-up!
The Record of Employment (ROE) is mandatory in establishing a claim for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. Service Canada uses the information provided on the ROE to determine whether you are eligible to receive EI benefits, the amount of the benefits you are entitled to, and the length of time the benefits will be provided to you. You are able to register for EI without your ROE, however your EI eligibility will not be determined until Service Canada’s receipt of the ROE. Your employer may choose to send the ROE directly to Service Canada electronically after your notice period ends rather than during. Now if you are in a case where there is a notice period, but you are not required to work all of it, you may want to follow-up with your employer when the ROE will be sent in.
Alternately if you can get a copy of the ROE from your employer, do so—the copy will be used by Service Canada until the electronic copy from your employer is received. You can register the required information so Service Canada can make the above determinations regarding your file and EI eligibility without delay.
- File for Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits immediately.
Even if you believe you are highly employable and will not require EI, the process of looking for new employment can take longer than you might expect. You will still have living costs to deal with while waiting for a potential employer to make you an offer, or provide you a start date if an employment offer has been made. If you are eligible for EI benefits, file right away. Remember that filing for EI can be done without receipt of your Record of Employment, but your assessment will not be completed by Service Canada until the ROE is received.
Registering for Employment Insurance Benefits can be done online at Service Canada’s site: https://www.canada.ca; or in person at the Service Canada location nearest you.
Being “let go” is a temporary state (especially if you proactively look for another place of employment).
Talk to people you trust, or to your friends and/or family. You will be amazed by the stories you hear and the number of people you know who have been in the exact same situation—all of whom have survived and thrived, you will too.
Potentially, this can be viewed as a new opportunity for you. Perhaps you will decide to go back to school, or travel, or become an entrepreneur. Being let go from your job may become the catalyst for a new and exciting time in your life.
Don’t view being let go as an ending because the most important truth about the situation is so much better than that …it is a beginning!
Kate Toner is a Government Proposal Writer in Adecco’s Head Office. She possesses over 17 years of professional business writing experience in the staffing industry, 16 years of which were dedicated to the information technology staffing field. Kate’s focus on government contracts during that time has honed her business writing skills and aided in winning multiple standing offers, supply arrangements, vendor of records, and preferred status with numerous public sector clients and broader public sector clients. Celebrating her first year with Adecco in June 2017, Kate is passionate about the power of the written word and its importance in business communications.
The above is not legal advice, nor is it intended to replace legal advice. Various industries must comply with provincial employment standards, however, some industries are required to follow federal employment standards. An employee, in event of being let go from their employment, should always refer to the official legislated version of Employment Standards Act (ESA) regulations in their Province or at the Federal level. Check with your provincial Ministry of Labour or the Canadian Government for the updated version of the ESA which can be found online in most regions. Please also note that if you are a unionized worker you will also wish to check with your Union Representative to understand your rights under your collective agreement which may have additional standards for employers to adhere to. Find out which applies to your employer and contact an employment lawyer in order to know your legal rights.