Termination of Your Employment – How to See it Coming and How to Prepare
In Alberta, we are going through some difficult economic times. Recessions lead to layoffs, usually massive amounts of lay-offs. It can be easy to predict when recession-caused layoffs are coming, but it is still usually a shock to the employee that is laid off.
Most Terminations Are Similar
However the people that I meet that are the most shocked to have been terminated are those that are terminated during “normal” times in their companies. That is, times in their company when revenues seem normal or even better than normal and there is no obvious financial distress within the company. When employees are terminated during these times they are generally very surprised, however they need not be. There are usually signs that can let an employee sense a forthcoming termination and start to prepare for it.
The vast majority of the clients that come to see me after termination tell me a version of the following story:
“I have been working at my job for several years. I have had a great deal of success, always received great reviews and I had a great relationship with my supervisor/manager. Then, some time ago, I got a new supervisor/manager and our relationship has not been very good. My new supervisor/manager wanted to replace me with someone that s/he liked better than s/he liked me. I was terminated and my new replacement will not be very good – I was way better at that job than my replacement.”
There is also some version of the statement: “I never thought it could happen to me”.
The result of the terminated employee not seeing the termination coming is that s/he is scrambling once terminated. Without an updated resume, without any idea of what new employment opportunities and jobs exist and, in some cases, without an immediate severance package to help pay household bills.
However the terminated employee need not be surprised. What can be taken from the above story is that no matter how successful you have been with your company, you should be wary if you find yourself with a new supervisor/manager or a new management structure. As great as your relationship has been in the company, as many rewards as you may have received, you are now in a “red flag” situation for termination.
If you find yourself in that situation, it is a good idea, at the very least, to ensure that your resume is up to date and that you are up to date on employment opportunities in your industry. Termination is an unpleasant situation but if you are at least aware of the possibility of your own termination, and have taken steps to prepare for it, the termination will not be as unpleasant as it might be.
Possibility of Financial Benefit
There is also a factor in these types of termination that is worth noting. If you receive a severance package when terminated, that package is a payout which is intended to cover the presumed time it will take you to find a new job, based on a number of factors including your age, position and how long you were with your company (these factors have been established by our courts). The upshot of this is that if you accept a severance package and then get a new job within the period covered by your package, you will obtain a financial bonus in that you will be receiving double salary through the remainder of your severance period. Obviously, the sooner you can obtain new employment (by being prepared in advance of your termination) the larger a financial bonus you will receive.
In that sense, termination might not be as unpleasant as it might otherwise be.
McGuigan Nelson LLP