In the case of some layoffs that involve many workers or an entire workplace, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining (WARN) Act may apply. If the WARN Act is applicable, then your employer may have to give you sixty (60) days notice prior to your layoff, as well as information regarding your rights and options. Likewise, your employer may be subject to the Trade Act, which mandates that laid off workers receive certain benefits and assistance.
In other cases, however, you may not be given any notice of your layoff; it is possible that your employer may simply close the doors to your workplace and completely cease operations. The good news is that all states provide services for workers who have been laid off from their jobs, such as unemployment insurance benefits, job search assistance, training and educational opportunities, and information about continuation of health insurance benefits.
You usually can access several of these programs through one location, which may be referred to as an unemployment office in some states, or a workforce development center in other states. Whatever its name, however, this office can be an invaluable resource in getting you back to work, and to supporting your family during this difficult and stressful time in your life. Not only can you get information about and assistance with filing your claim for unemployment insurance benefits, but you can also get help with searching and applying for jobs, drafting your resume, refining your interviewing skills, and other career-related assistance. Your local office might also offer assistance with job retraining opportunities and other educational development that might help increase your ability to find a job.
You can also seek technical support for your employment search through your local office. For instance, you can often access computers and printers to produce resumes and search and apply for jobs online. Your local office may also give you access to a telephone and a fax machine for contacting employers.
Another common concern in the event of a layoff is financial support. Unemployment insurance benefits are available in every state; the amount and duration of these benefits may differ from state to state. In any case, assuming that you have worked for a certain period of time and are not responsible for your layoff, you should be eligible for some unemployment insurance benefits on at least a temporary basis while you are looking for a new job.
If you are laid off, you might also be wondering about your continued eligibility for health insurance and pension benefits. Your local office can help you understand your rights to continue health insurance coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), if your employer had a group insurance plan. Furthermore, the Employees Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) has important provisions that allow you to protect your retirement savings after a layoff. Plus, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) protects you and your family from discrimination on the basis of any preexisting medical conditions that become an issue as a result of your layoff. Be sure to educate yourself about all of the benefits to which you may be entitled in the event of a layoff.