by Contributing Author
Most employees who work in the private sector are at the mercy of the employer regarding job security. Anyone is at risk of losing their job for any reason, such as workplace disputes or even just failing to sign a non-compete agreement NC.
Some employers give their workers notice of job loss, depending on the situation, while others do it unexpectedly and swiftly. It doesn’t matter how you’ve lost your job, however; it is still a tough time to go through.
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To give yourself the best chance after a job loss, make sure you understand your rights in the following areas:
1. Final Paycheck
When newly terminated from work, you will worry about money. Your employer should give you a final paycheck within the required time. You may receive the paycheck on the day you lose your job, a few days later, or on the regular payday.
You may also be entitled to your accrued vacation time in the final paycheck (but not sick time).
2. Severance Pay
Usually, not all employees receive severance pay after a layoff. But, there are some exceptions:
• Severance pay is included in your employment contract. Most workers work ‘at will’, which means there is no guarantee of employment for a specific period. However, the employer may provide an employment contract with particular employees. The contracts may state that the employee will receive severance pay if they are laid off.
• Mass layoff severance. Some states require employers to give a small amount of severance pay when they lay off a lot of people or close their plants.
• Employer practices or policies of severance pay. You might be able to get severance pay if your employer has a policy of giving it to people who are fired or lose their jobs for no reason. If your employer singles you out and fails to pay your severance, a court of law may interpret your regular severance payment history as a contract. Talk to an employment lawyer if you rightly deserve severance pay from your former employer.
3. Health Benefits
If your employer has provided health insurance coverage, you may be entitled to the same for at least 18 months after losing your job. This is according to a law known as COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), which provides employees and their dependents the opportunity to extend their health insurance coverage after being laid off.
But, you will be responsible for the premium cost, in full, at the rate negotiated by your former employer. The COBRA law applies to establishments with 20 employees and above.
4. Unemployment Insurance
These benefits provide income to employees temporarily unemployed or had their work hours significantly reduced. To qualify for unemployment insurance, the reason for losing the job should not be your fault.
Usually, you are eligible for the benefits if you lost your job because there was no work, were fired, or resigned. You must meet certain conditions to obtain unemployment insurance, among them being that you are actively looking for another job.
If you think that you have not been treated according to company policy or the law after being laid off, get assistance from an employment lawyer. You may also seek assistance from your state labor department.