Today, 850 at Viacom, 500 at NBC Universal and another 12,000 AT&T found out they will lose their jobs in layoffs.We hope not, but if you’re in a media company that hasn’t had layoffs yet, you could be next.
Here’s the good news, CareerProtection.com’s Kirk Nemer told us: It’s really, really important to your employer that you go quietly. So much so, that often, companies are willing to bribe laid-off employees with a fatter severance package to make sure of it.
Here are 10 rules for making sure you’re the squeaky wheel that takes your employer for a ride:
- Do not sign anything right away. After breaking the bad news, the HR rep will try make you sign a release within two hours. Don’t. If you’re being cut as a part of a general layoff, you have at least three weeks to sign your severance package agreement, which is really an agreement to not sue the company. If you did sign it — and if you’re older than 40 –you can revoke your signature within a week.
- No severance package is take it or leave it. Negotiate. Your employer expects you to. The most important thing to them is that you do not sue and go away without controversy. They can’t take away a severance package once they’ve already offered it.
- Do not, however, negotiate while you’re still in shock. Go home. Eat dinner. Weep. Then come back and make them pay you more to go quietly.
- Find out how many others are being cut from your particular office. If it’s 50 or more, the WARN act requires your employer give you 60 days notice (or at least 60 days pay).
- Make sure they offer continued health benefits. Federal law requires 18 months of continued coverage via COBRA. Sometimes you can make them pay for some of it.
- Make sure you’re getting the bonus you earned last year.
- In fact, make sure you’re getting paid for all your accrued benefits, such as sick days or vacation time.
- Ask for outplacement services — or money to pay for them.
- Make sure your severance package is commensurate with your tenure. You should get more than the people who worked for you and peers who have been at the company for less time.
- Get advice from a professional, not just a blog post.