Laid Off? Things to Take Care of Immediately

Everyone reacts to a job lay off in their own individual way. Some people panic and try to find another job immediately. Other people relax and take some time off. No matter how you react, however, it is important to take care of certain things that will prove to be important to your future. 
Immediately following your lay off you should make sure to take appropriate actions concerning:
·         Your vested stock options: If you have vested stock options with your company that you have not yet exercised then you need to speak to your human resources representative about how many days you have to exercise those options when you are terminated. While you are not required to exercise the options, you will forever lose them if you do not exercise them within the required time frame.
·         Your Health Insurance / COBRA: federal law allows employees who have been laid off to continue their medical insurance for up to 18 months following their termination. This coverage, known as COBRA, is often very expensive for employees because it requires employees to pay both the share that they were paying prior to their termination and their former employer’s share. However, it is often less expensive than seeking health insurance privately. Employees have 60 days from their last date of employment to elect COBRA coverage.
·         Your Other Insurance Benefits: you should also talk to your human resources representative about any other types of insurance that you have through your employer such as vision insurance, dental insurance, disability insurance and life insurance. Make sure that you know the exact ending date of each type of insurance coverage. Take care of any vision or dental issues prior to the date on which your insurance expires. Also, consider replacing the insurance coverage if you feel that is important for you or your immediate family.
·         Unemployment Insurance: Most full time employees who are laid off for reasons other than just cause are legally entitled to unemployment insurance. Each state has an office that is responsible for the administration of unemployment compensation. It is important that you contact that office either by phone, the internet or in person and that you understand exactly how to apply for unemployment benefits and the deadline for such application.
·         Severance Package: Some employers provide their employees with severance packages. It is important that you review the terms of the package before you agree to it. However, it is also important to be aware of any deadlines associated with accepting the package so that you do not inadvertently let the benefits contained in the severance package lapse.
Remember, many of the things listed above have firm deadlines and there are a lot of details to take care of when you are laid off. If you do not take care of them within the required timeframes then you risk losing the benefit entirely. So it is important that you take care of the necessary business as soon as possible following your lay off.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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