Don’t Get Fired Or Quit, Get Laid Off Instead

Gold Coure With BeerThere’s a big difference between getting fired and getting laid off. Most of what you read in the papers is about people getting laid off due to a “reduction in force,” or RIF as many companies call it nowadays. Getting fired is almost always due to cause.

You may have sent out a blast e-mail with company secrets by mistake. Or perhaps you said some sexist joke about women when the female HR manager so happened to walk by. Whatever the case, you don’t want to get fired, nor should you quit if you don’t have to.

If you are fired or quit, a number of things can happen:

1) You will not be eligible for unemployment benefits. The logic is, you did something wrong that forced your company to fire you. Hence it is your own fault you are unemployed!

2) You might have a black mark on your record if you’re fired, making you damaged goods for future employers.

3) You may lose supporters who would have written letters of recommendation. They might not want to risk their reputation on a quitters or miscreants.

4) You might die alone. Few things in life are worse than dying alone. If you don’t have a job and don’t have a backup plan, who will want to be with you for the long term?

GET “RIFFED” AND BREATHE EASIER

Now that you realize the downside of getting fired or quitting, you should logically seek an alternative. If you just can’t stand the company you are working for anymore, figure out a way to get laid off of course!

If you are laid off, you get a number of benefits:

1) You are eligible for government unemployment benefits. Here in San Francisco, you can get $900 every two weeks. That’s $1,800 a month for at least 26 weeks, and up to 73 weeks back in 2012 when the unemployment rates were much higher.

2) You may get severance. Many companies offer one to three weeks per every year worked. Please note that severance is completely at the discretion of the employer and is not required by law.

3) If you have deferred compensation in the form of stock or cash, you are eligible to receive these assets during the scheduled time table. My friend Paul, for example, has around $400,000+ in deferred compensation he loses if he quits!

4) You will get all your unused vacation days paid. You should get this anyway, but if you quit, there’s no guarantee. You may even receive unused sick days, but that is very rare.

5) You will have no black marks on your employment record. A key if you want to get back into the game at a future time.

6) You will get COBRA (healthcare) coverage for at least month and often times 3-6 months fully paid for by your employer. Legally, most companies must provide the option for COBRA for 18 months after separation. You most likely have to pay the monthly premiums after the initial grace period. It all depends on how well you negotiate. Here’s a 1,700 word article on Cheap Health Insurance Options For The Unemployed, Self-Employed, Or Early Retiree I wrote on March 8, 2013.

HOW TO GET LAID OFF

Let’s say you’ve been working at your company for five years, and you’ve decided selling vacuum cleaners no longer interests you. You are a bit burnt out, and you wish to take a three month break in between jobs to recharge. You can’t just quit because you’ll lose 10 weeks of severance pay and not receive unemployment benefits or health care. Here are some ways and thoughts to get laid off:

* Google “WARN notification *your state*.” Then search by your company. WARN stands for “Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notificationwhere a company legally must file with the state if they plan to do a mass layoff. The goal is to provide potentially laid off workers time to adjust to a job loss (2 months in California, 3 months in New York for example).

* Talk to your manager about the company’s staffing levels. ”Bloated, lean, just about right?” Basically tell her that you empathize with how difficult her decision must be to lay people off, and ask how she copes? As the dialogue ensues, bring up a suggestion that you are willing to sacrifice your position for the good of the firm if she is asked by senior managers to choose people to layoff. This way, you seem like a good team player. You should also make clear that with your sacrifice, you wish to receive severance and any deferred compensation you might have.

Being a manager is very difficult during rough times. If you can help managers make some difficult decisions for them, more often than not, they will accept your proposal  If you ever wonder why C-level execs hire consultants like McKinsey for strategic reviews, now you know why. The consultants are often the scapegoats for letting go of staff, so the blame doesn’t go on the big bosses. Of course, if you are one of the top performers, they will make it difficult for you to leave, and might ask how they can help make your life better and might even give you a raise.

* Bring up the topic of a sabbatical with your manager. There’s never really a good time to ask for one. When things are busy and booming, the last thing the company wants is for an employee to take a nice 3 month long break.  When things are bad, your manager will think you’re being thoughtless and foolish with your career. That’s fine, since you want to get laid off anyway!  You can recharge and enjoy your time off, and if you get back and find yourself laid off, then what a fine choice. Here’s a post that goes through the decisions on whether to take a sabbatical or not.

* Fade to mediocrity.  This is a riskier strategy that must be tactfully managed. Companies let go of their bottom 5-10% performers every year. Some call it the “Jack Welch Rule” from GE.  So long as you are one of the average 70-80% of employees, you’ll likely never be let go. Falling to the bottom 10% in performance requires: not being a team player, but still being nice e.g. “Sorry, can’t stay late, gotta go!“, being out of sight, not feeling you’ve put in your best work, and maybe even arriving 15 minutes late at times. Be very careful not to do anything wrong. Most people at firms are mediocre, so don’t feel bad.

* Become disliked, but not hated. Are you the type of person who likes to whistle at your cubicle to the agitation of your colleagues? Do you like to bring back from breakfast or lunch the stinkiest meal possible and disgust your neighbors? Well then, you are on the right path for getting put on the “RIF List.” I’ve had a couple managers tell me they can’t stand someone because of their loud noises and whistles. Because they can’t stand that person, the manager finds nitpicking things to justify a RIF. As the annoying person, you should continue to be nice and smile.  Just be a little oblivious.

* Use the “It’s not you it’s me, but really it’s you” strategy. When you’re afraid to let someone down who loves you more than you love them, employing this strategy works. Here’s a whole post on how you can lessen someone’s pain during breakup.

Important: It’s really all about planting a seed of doubt in your manager’s mind. Once your manager thinks you’re a pain in the ass, annoying, or not pulling your weight, you will have a very difficult time convincing him or her otherwise. People are naturally biased and will find reasons to let you go if you sufficiently bother them. For example, if your manager is a Republican, you can mention you are going to an Obama fund raiser. Totally legal, but you will crawl under your manager’s skin to the point where all he’ll think about is finding ways to legally get rid of you!

Things to do or not to do when you are trying to get laid off:

* Do not write anything in e-mail that could condemn you to getting fired. Assume all your e-mail are read. If you are embarrassed to read your e-mail on the front page of the newspaper, the e-mail is not legitimate and should not be written.

* Do not abuse your corporate card or any channel where you can spend the firm’s money. You should never abuse your corporate card anyway. All expenditure must be above board.

* Do not harass your colleagues. This is a given. Now is not the time to go hit on the hot tamale at the other end of the floor. Many companies have a non-interoffice dating policy.

* Do not come in late or leave early more than once a week. Companies can terminate you for being incessantly late, so don’t slack too much.

* Read your employee handbook. There are many dangers you must avoid that are contained in the hand book.

EMPOWER YOURSELF!

Getting laid off can be a wonderful thing if you have other things planned. The better an employee you are, the harder it is for you to engineer your layoff because you are clearly more valuable to the firm than what they are paying you. Also, if a manager lays you off, by many state laws, they can not replace you with another candidate for a certain time period because that would violate the reason for a layoff. If you are a bad employee, you should probably be fired, but that opens up reputational risk to the firm as well as litigation risk.

If you are thinking about quitting your job, please at least attempt to engineer a layoff instead. You may get severance, all your deferred compensation, healthcare coverage,  as well as unemployment benefits from the government. This is real money that shouldn’t be taken lightly, since there’s no guarantee that after the layoff you’ll succeed in whatever new thing you want to do. Besides, after all these years of paying taxes, don’t you want at least some of that money back? Although your employer pays the unemployment insurance directly on your payroll, you are still indirectly paying for unemployment through a lower wage equivalent to the tax they must pay!

Sooner or later, our careers end. If you want your career to end sooner, consider getting laid off instead of quitting or getting fired. And if you have an incredible opportunity lined up already that will pay you handsomely, go ahead and quit. Just make sure you know what you’re missing if you do!

Note: It is very important to work together with your HR staff. The HR staff’s main purpose is to protect the company from litigation and NOT you. Remember who pays the HR staff’s compensation. Finally, a severance comes with you signing a document protecting the firm from you. In essence, a severance package is like hush money. 

Recommendations For Building Wealth & Living FREE

* How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye - If you enjoyed this article, I wrote a comprehensive 100-page eBook teaching people how to profitably quit their jobs. I go through the framework of how to negotiate a severance package and what to look for during negotiations. Corporations have a team of lawyers and HR professionals looking out for their own interests. Employees have nobody but advice from friends until now. My book is here to help those who feel they are at risk of getting let go, or who simply want to leave. Everybody who I’ve coached or spoken to has said that engineering their layoff feels like winning the lottery. In my case my lottery ticket amounts to six years of living expenses.

* Take Control Over Your Finances – One of the best way to increase your wealth is to track your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. PC is a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts in one place so you can see where you can optimize. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 28 different accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, CDs, money markets, etc). Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing and how my net worth is progressing. Their best feature is their “401k Fee Analyzer” which is saving me over $1,000 a year in portfolio fees I had no idea I was paying. Once you are financially secure, you can do anything you want. It only takes a minute to sign up.

Regards,

Sam

 

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. Mary Ann says

    Hello,

    I got called into my boss’s office this morning (Thursday, 9/20/2012)and told me that things is not working out, they had found my replacement and if I’m willing to train the person. I told them I can only stay for another week (Friday, 9/28/2012) before I was going to take off for my wedding. If I do decided not to show up next week, can I still collect the unemployement?

    Thanks.

  2. Mari says

    Hello,

    Two months ago my company decided to get rid of my position. They gave me a choice to take a different position and keep my pay or get laid off. Since they were giving me a option to take another job role I thought that I would not appy for unemployment benefits. Therefore, I immediately started researching and ran into this article. After reading the benefits that I would receive I decided to get laid off. I must say this was the best decision I could have made. At first I thought that this would be a mistake because I would be unemployed but after reading and informing myself of the benefits, I really had nothing to lose. I received a severance package, stock compensation, vacation pay, three personal days, and unemployment. At the moment I am taking a well deserved time off after working for so many years. I must say “I love it”. Thank you for putting this out there for everyone, it sure helped me.

  3. Pat says

    I got laid off from a very stressful and impossible to do well long term project. At the beginning of the project, the company hired a senior manager to manage my manager and the guy immediately started criticizing every aspects of the project. Friends had warned me that it’s a sign that the new guy wanted to bring in ‘his’ people and it’s time for me to look for new job. Sure enough, within a short time, he started re-organizing and hired two senior people who used to report to him. I didn’t believe in quitting and sort of believed in the ‘team’ that I worked with fro some long so I decided to fight on and managed to survive another year. But eventually I was laid off on some lame excuses.

    Thinking back, I could have done better if I had listened to my friends. But now that I got severances, unemployment benefits, as well as seeing how ugly politics worked, it’s actually a very helpful learning experience for me.

    I had never been laid off before but I now believe everyone should experience it at least once. It’s a great life lesson.

  4. Anne says

    I worked at the same job for over 20 years. The last 8 or so were very stressful. These people were so nasty and hateful in so many ways I simply will not go into it here. Instead of waiting around to be laid off I decided to be proactive. I went back to school, picked up some valuable skills and quit. When I turned in my resignation they were actually angry and from what I hear still are (and its been over 5 years!). Life is too short to wait around for some A-hole to lay me off just so I can pick up some government benefits.

  5. MillionaireNTraining says

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this blog!! I am thinking of a way to get laid off! I work at home for a cell phone company and recently my company was trying to write me up saying I had missed to many days of work, but it so happened that it was technical issues on their part that I missed the days. Glad I kept the emails they sent out! Now, I have to put my action plan in play..I want to do some other stuff and now by them trying to wrongfully write me up…I feel like this is my ammunition that I needed!!! Thank you GOD!! I’m going to check out your book! I think this will be great outlet for me! I hate working for other people! I want to be my own boss! THanks Financial Samurai

    • says

      Thanks! How did you find my blog? If you are serious about figuring out a way to get laid off, read my 100-page book where I teach people how to set up the framework in order to do so.

      If you’ve got a plan, you’ve got a great chance at walking away with a good chunk of change in your pocket. Good luck!

  6. MillionaireNTraining says

    Hi FS,

    I Googled how to get laid off and your blog appeared! Thanks I’m going to read your book ASAP! I can’t wait and I live in a “At Will State” which means they can fire you for anything.

  7. NYmom says

    I need some advice here:
    My maternity leave is about to end and I have proposed my employer to come back to work gradually while I adjust to leaving the baby with a nanny since it is so expensive to have a full time nanny in NY. I offered to work from home and get back to the full time schedule gradually but my employer said that this wasn’t possible, that they needed a full time person to take over the position I left.
    After having a conf call with the HR department, they asked me to furnish a letter of resignation. I haven’t done that yet because I want to analyze the situation and how can I figure out a way for them to lay me off instead. I don’t know how though, any ideas!??? Also, they haven’t emailed me back regarding te remaining vacation days that I didn’t use or the end of year bonus that I worked towards to for more than half of the year.
    I would greatly appreciate any advice!

    • says

      NYMom, that is a tough spot, and I think you are being bullied here. I wrote an entire 100-page book about the process, and about woman’s rights and maternity leave. Have you seen it? If not, please empower yourself. Right now is no time to mess around.

  8. NYmom says

    Dear Financial Samurai,
    I haven’t seen it but will do right now!
    Do you have any ideas of how to approach this situation?
    I really don’t know how to negotiate with HR but don’t want to give them the pleasure of handing them a resignation letter. They want to talk over the phone but I feel like all this correspondence should be in writing at least, right?
    I don’t know what to do, I think they are taking full advantage of the situation.
    Any advice?

    • says

      NYMom, I’m glad you are reading my book as it should empower you to take charge of your employment situation. Please go through the entire book first and then maybe we can talk later. I do not understand your full situation b/c you haven’t provided it, but what I can tell you from our comments is to NOT hand in a resignation letter! That is a cheap way for them to get rid of you without having to pay you severance or healthcare.

      If you are interested in detailed advice, you can visit this link: http://www.financialsamurai.com/fs-online-services/career-personal-finance/

  9. NYmom says

    I just bought the book, reading now :) but can’t find the maternity leave section…
    I’m so happy that I found you via Google!

  10. NYmom says

    What happens when you don’t have a contract but you are full time under employment at will.
    Would I still have a chance of negotiating my severance?

  11. laid off lady says

    This was an awesome read! I was laid off a few months ago, only to find I did everything that was mentioned in this article! Some of my coworkers found me annoying, I was late ever now and then, I was actually top of my company but began to “slack off” because I saw others getting paid for doing my same job less efficently. I ddecided to take a “leave of absence” for 3 months to “benefit the company” since things were slow, only to return to my boss laying me off! And you’re right!I have worked for over 25 years and paid my taxes, why not take advantage of it! Thanks Sam!

  12. LaidoffGoodman says

    Dear Sam,
    I have been employed at this company in California for almost 22 years on a salary basic. Recently, the company said that their work loads were slow so they told me to work only 3 days a week and take 2 days vacation pays so my checks would be the same. After one month, the Office manager told me that they had to lay me off, and if they get busy again, they would call me back. They also told me to leave my stuffs there, I didn’t have to take them home. A month later, I came back to visit them and saw my stuffs were all packed up in boxes, ready “to go”. There was a new guy in my office, sitting on my chair…doing my job! I am a Planner and Programmer. There were never any warnings or any indications that this would happen to me. They did not give me any paper work to say that I was laid off or would be rehired back later. They only gave me a check for the remain hrs and a check for 2 week vacations that I did not take and that was it.
    Do you think they can do that to me? After 22 years working hard and being so loyal to them, is this it? I am lost…. I think it will be hard, very hard for me to find a new job or a job that would pay the same! I am currently looking for a new job, at the same time applying for UI, I am also trying to learn new software to update myself at home….
    I have a family with kids, a mortgage and a car payment to manage!
    Please advise.
    Thank You for you help.

    • says

      Mate, I think your rights have been violated. Did you get any severance, COBRA, vacation days paid, retraining benefits, or anything? 22 years is a long time. You seriously need to read my book if you are talking about family with kids, mortgage, car payments etc. I think you are being screwed over. S

  13. peaches edelstein says

    I work as Administrative Assistant for a large university in a small department where there will never be a layoff, but i REALLY NEED to get laid off because boss is psycho and hates me. I know she is setting a paper trial to get me fired and annual review is next week. I need to work on my own paper trail, but do you have any advice for putting forth my best effort to get unemployment benefits even though it’s due to firing?

  14. Rachel says

    My employer just issued a confidential letter stating that some departments will be downsize, and certain employees have been notified already. My department jhired five new employees. I am under disciplinary action for attendance. I have improved. Can they fire me for past reliability issues?

  15. Joeson says

    I am being laid off at the end of this year due to company moving division back east. The problem is a lot of the senior people moved on before the announced layoff so a lot of the current employees didn’t bother to stay for a limited package. So now I am stuck with limited resources and temps. In addition, they want to build inventories to make the transition to the new location easier. Sticking around for this severance package may put me in an early grave.

  16. TiredT says

    Financial Samurai,
    Need your help. I started a position 6 months ago after being recruited for the role. With in 3 months I have had multiple managers and my position has been changed drastically. I working in a training field but the travel has increased significantly from 50 to 95 percent. I have expressed concern to HR but they have stated this is the job now. In addition the new role has duties which I do not have the skill set for. Although training has been offered I am feeling stuck as most of the new information is geared towards someone with a completely different background/work experience than what I bring to table.

    I have thought of quitting but realized although I can show proof in the job change/role and unwillingness to reduce travel schedule, I am afraid I won’t qualify for benefits. I left another job which I was at for years for this role. What suggestions do you have to walk away from this situation and receive a severance or be laid off and qualify for benefits.

  17. Lisa says

    I live in UT. I am a top producer at my job. My boss was a hired gun to get rid of me. I was told I am layed off as of August 16, 13 BUT if I do anything disruptive intential or unintential I will be fired. My husband said this is illegal and they cannot lay me off for a month and then fire me. I am walking on egg shells to not do anything wrong, but they have odd ideas and preceptions at this place. I just had a great yearly employee review in June 2013. They are already advertising for my job and I have a BS degree. Was I wrongfully terminated and should I seek legal advise?

    • says

      I’ve never heard of that type of language before. Sounds like they are having everything all ways. They CAN file a motion to fire you for cause, but only you will know whether you have a history of insubordination.

      The positive is that at least you know ahead of time that you will be laid off, and you can start looking for work ASAP. Since you know the end date, please talk to HR now about your severance package. And also please consider buying my book about how to get laid off. This is serious stuff where you need to arm yourself with as much knowledge and strategy as possible.

  18. Help says

    Financial Samuri,

    Thanks for your website. Psycho boss I worked for told me I wasn’t “working out” and that I had “30 days to find a new job.” I told her I would not be back. I’d like to write a letter “accepting” her termination. Will this help me get benefits? I’m in Texas.

    Also, info I found on WARN doesn’t seem to apply to most…am I wrong?

    Any info ASAP would be greatly appreciated. I need to make contact Monday since everything was verbal.

  19. it's windy out here says

    OK, so I’ve almost managed to accomplish this (OK, I lucked into it) and I need some ideas for what’s next. I’m about to get laid off for the rather mundane reason that my company is moving / eliminating my position and they offered me the choice between leaving with a severance or moving 1,000 miles away and taking a different position. My wife has a great job here and we’d prefer not to uproot our daughter, so we’re staying.

    So, the conundrum: my job for the last 5 years can be best described as new business development in a very narrow energy niche that’s not a great place for opportunity right now. It’s been a decently heavy travel job (25-50%) but the pay has been really good and I’ve progressed up the ladder a little. However, I want to reduce that travel to <5% (i.e. zero) or as close to that as I can get. So I'm talking about changing both my industry and my field. I'd describe myself as a generalist with some leadership experience thanks to Uncle Sam and an MBA from a top 20 school and industry-specific experience in wind energy, which despite what you may be thinking doesn't necessarily translate very well to solar or nat gas. Most of the jobs that are popping up on my radar are management consultant, biz dev or sales jobs, all of which I'm generally trying to avoid due to the travel requirements. I also clearly am not willing to relocate. I have the resources to get additional credentials to go from being a generalist to a specialist, I could even pick up a masters degree for free or at half price, but would like to avoid that if possible because I want to keep earning. Along those lines I have considered CFA / CPA / CFP to target financial services or taking a more technical / quantitative approach by getting an MS in CS or data science. Technical certifications may also be on the table.

    I am very open to the possibility of operating a lifestyle business or businesses online as I've really come to appreciate scheduling flexibility, but what I lack is a specific idea or direction to launch towards and I'd want to be able to start generating a decent amount of profit within a year or so.

    So to summarize, I'm looking for suggestions for jobs, businesses or fields with good pay ($100k or more, or the potential to get there within 18 months), zero or very low travel requirements, can be found in relative abundance in any reasonably major metro area and that are suitable for generalists with minimal additional credentials. Any suggestions?

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