Monday 16th of January 2017
You’ve been called in for a meeting with the boss. It’s not time to panic; it could be nothing, after all. But you’ve been hearing rumblings around the department the past few weeks about possible signs of trouble, and realize that things may not always be going as well as they once were.
As you walk in, and you see your manager waiting along with an HR rep, while both try to brave smiles, your stomach begins to sink. You realize then that the envelopes they’re holding mean that today is your last day of work with the company.
This is, of course, not the path for every termination, but for many working individuals the above sequence may seem uncomfortably familiar. Should you find yourself in that unfortunate situation, here are some key pointers to remember:
- Take a Deep Breath – Really, as difficult as it may seem, try not to panic. Losing a job can be the end of a lengthy and meaningful relationship; the employment relationship is usually one of the most important bonds in one’s life. The loss will be difficult, and can be emotionally painful, but try to remember that all is not lost. There are other employers with other opportunities, and you will find the one that’s right for you, but a positive attitude will certainly help you through the process. This could turn out to be a great thing in disguise.
- Don’t Sign Anything – In your termination meeting, you may be presented with a severance offer of some sort, which will likely be lengthy and convoluted and will take some time to review. It is best practice for both your employer and yourself not to sign this offer during your initial meeting. The termination is likely still a shock, and you are in no shape to make major financial and legal decisions you have not had time to appropriately review. A well-structured package will build in a window of several days before a reply is needed, and many will suggest obtaining outside legal advice, which leads to Suggestion 3…
- Call an Employment Lawyer – Employment lawyers are professionals who are experts in reviewing severance agreements and offering advice, even if the offer as it stands may be a good fit for you, or what amendments may be advisable. While pursuing legal proceedings following a termination may be one option, employment lawyers are well-versed in various methods of negotiating with employers and their lawyers in order to improve a package. Further, employment lawyers rarely act in isolation – they may enlist the help of your financial advisors, accountants, or even your doctors to be sure you’re in the best position to go forward.
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By Mitchell Rose and Shaun Bernstein, Stancer Gossin Rose LLP
Lawyers and Mediators, Toronto