Article 43

 

Dealing with Layoff

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The cost of COBRA

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act - COBRA - gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102 percent of the cost to the plan.

For us layed off AT&T workers, the 2005 cost to continue our benefits under COBRA is about $450 single coverage, $1150 family coverage - monthly.

Click HERE for the COBRA Insurance website.

Posted by Elvis on 01/04/05 •
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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Loyalty Confusion

I’m a baby boomer, who was downsized from a long, rewarding career at AT&T, watching it’s corporate culture change dramatically of late, who has a good 20 years working time left.  I’m struggling where to put personal work values and ethics against the reality of today’s corporate climate, and needing to pay the mortgage every month.

Older folks like me commit ourselves 100% to a company, giving them our loyalty and the best of ourselves, motivated to climb the corporate ladder by doing a good job - in return expecting a decent salary and longevity.

It ain’t like that anymore. To companies, the bottom line is the dollar, nothing else, and today’s younger generation has adopted to this reality. A GenX-er gets a job, learns what he/she can from it, then moves on to another company.  Loyalty and commitment aren’t worth as much - and the business models of today (increased outsourcing) discourages this attitude.

Finding a full time job that pays reasonably well has proven nearly impossible, so I signed a contract with a rent-a-tech company, which I’m learning means jumping from job to job with no benefits, no vacation, but an hourly wage better than anything else out there. 

New motivations need to be found.  What are they?

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Posted by Elvis on 11/23/04 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Personal
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Thursday, November 18, 2004

401K Choices after Layoff

Four Choices for You and Your Nest Egg

Published: October 29, 2004

By Jacqueline Fearer

While Chuck Yoke was in a hastily called office meeting a few years ago, a crew of professional terminators, along with members of his own staff, disconnected his phone, deleted his computer accounts, and deactivated his security access.

Back at his desk, he found a severance package and just enough boxes to hold his personal belongings. Before he left the building, his corporate credit card, employee identification badge, and laptop computer were seized.

While walking to his car, he remembers thinking that his calls and e-mails would remain unanswered—and that his 401(k) would never be fully vested.

“I felt depersonalized,” says the 46-year-old Denver information systems manager who, under the terms of his severance agreement, can’t identify the technology company that laid him off. “I’d had a sense that it was coming, but believe me, you can’t prepare yourself for the humbling, humiliating reality of being pulled into a room and confronted with an apologetic human resources representative who has been flown in to lay you off. It was a real blow to my ego.”

Although Mr. Yoke found another job within a month, he says it took some time to get over the shock of being considered “non-essential” by his employer. It could happen to you.

When leaving a company—voluntarily or not—you need to make decisions about your health, life, and disability insurance. But you also need to decide what to do with any vested assets accumulated in your employer-sponsored retirement savings plan, such as a 401(k), 403(b), or 457.

Oftentimes, employees receive little information from their former employers regarding their 401(k) distribution options—or the tax consequences associated with those options.

Employees, therefore, don’t know that they may have been able to leave the assets in their former employer’s plan, and they often have to seek advice from another source on where to put their money.

“Companies need to be proactive in providing information and education to their employees—at least enough to help employees feel confident that they’re making the right decisions,” says Steve Deschenes, executive vice president of Fidelity Investments Institutional Service Company.

Roberta Chinsky-Matuson, founder of Human Resource Solutions, a Massachusetts-based independent human resources consultant, advises her clients to always be prepared for their lives to take an unexpected turn.

“Take a look at where your money is going, and see if there are areas where you can cut back. Then tighten your belt and start to save more,” Ms. Chinsky-Matuson says. “That will help put you in a much stronger financial position to weather emergency situations or layoffs.”

If your employer were to cut you loose tomorrow, what would you do with your employer-sponsored retirement savings plan?

Depending on your age, the amount of money in your plan, and your long-term goals, you generally have four choices:

Leave the money where it is. Your employer’s plan may allow you to leave your vested 401(k) savings in the plan, provided you meet a minimum balance requirement—typically $5,000 in current 401(k) contributions; assets rolled over are not eligible.

Roll over assets to your new employer’s plan. After you land a new job, you can generally transfer your vested 401(k) balance from your previous employer’s plan to your new employer’s plan.

Roll over your assets to an IRA. Why would you choose an IRA over another employer’s 401(k)? One reason may be that IRAs typically offer a broader range of investments as well as more control over your assets.

Take a cash distribution. Unless you truly need the money to meet living expenses, cashing out your retirement plan usually is your last choice. In addition to forfeiting the benefits of tax-deferred growth, the IRS requires your former company’s plan administrator to withhold 20% for taxes from your total distribution.

Immediately after his fateful meeting with human resources, Chuck Yoke recalls being acutely aware that he was no longer in control.

“People I didn’t even know had made important decisions about crucial aspects of my life,” Mr. Yoke recalls.

But there are ways to cushion the blow. And there are things that can be kept safe from anyone else’s influence—such as what you ultimately do with your retirement savings. By making a few simple and sensible decisions over the course of your career, you just might prevent an unexpected job loss from becoming a life-altering experience.

Jacqueline Fearer writes for Fidelity and is a frequent contributor to publications available to Fidelity customers. E-mail any questions or comments to Investor’s Weekly at

Credit: Fidelity Investments

Posted by Elvis on 11/18/04 •
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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Bouncing Back From A Termination

By George Blomgren

I have a good friend who lost his job last Friday - he was downsized. The way he reacted to this trauma is inspirational.

He got up at his normal time the following Monday morning. He showered, shaved, and put on his business clothes. He started working the phone immediately; calling everyone he could think of - friends, colleagues from previous employers, clients, vendors, church members. His basic request to each person was, “Can we sit down for a few minutes so you can share any thoughts you might have about my situation?” Tactfully implicit in this request was, of course, “If you know of any opportunities, I’d love to hear about them.”

There are many things worth noting in his story. By getting an early start Monday and dressing for work, he kept his momentum going. Additionally, he clearly understood that job hunting is a very important full time activity, and should be approached as such. He also recognized and tapped into the full breadth of the network available to him - potentially, almost anyone he knew.

He refused to fall into the “victim mentality” which would have been so easy after being axed - a mentality that can be terribly counter-constructive to a job seeker.

Perhaps the most important point about this story is that everyone he networked with could only be impressed by the work ethic, the positive spirit and the gumption he showed by climbing right back into the saddle.

It paid off quickly. After hearing from him, I confidently reached out to several of my colleagues who I thought would have something to offer. Many of his other networking leads felt likewise. Less than one week later, he already had several actual job opportunities targeted, and interviews arranged.

I confidently predict his biggest challenge won’t be finding another job quickly. It will be choosing between various lucrative and tempting offers.

It reminds me of a great quote I heard recently about sales. (Remember: job hunting is an exercise in sales and marketing. You’re the product and interviewers are potential customers.) The quote I heard - one that applies to my friend - was “In a sales situation, the customer’s perception of value comes not so much from what you are selling as how you are selling it.”

George Blomgren is an Operations Manager with THE BENEFIT COMPANIES. He’s been on both sides of the table, and now that he’s on the hiring side, he’s sharing his secrets of success to gainful employment.

Source: JOBSEEKERWEEKLY Nov 8 2004 issue

Posted by Elvis on 11/10/04 •
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Sunday, October 31, 2004

What To Do If You’re Layed Off

In today’s uncertain business world, continuous layoffs, dot-bombs, and technology shifts, one of our most common inquiries is asking what to expect when laid off. Whether you are a software programmer, a manufacturing worker, a high tech engineer, or a medical worker, no job is secure from outsourcing and insourcing.

When you are handed the proverbial pink-slip (when you are laid off), it is very important that you not go into panic mode. Stop, take a deep breath, think clearly, and start planning. Every step you take from the moment that you are laid off will protect you, your fellow Americans, and your financial future.

If you are not laid off yet, but you know that you will be laid off soon

Are you training a foreign replacement? Document! Document! Document!

Find out if your replacement will be working here in the U.S. or overseas in his home country. Find out what type of visa your replacement is using to work here in the U.S.

Documentthe qualifications of every worker in your group. In the event that you are laid off and you are replaced by foreign workers, you will need to know the qualifications, education and experience of every member of your group. Gather information about foreign visa workers - their full names, address, dates of hire, and the name of their original agency of hire. Any other information you can glean is always helpful.

Documentthe number of American workers laid off, the number of foreign workers laid off, and which positions they held. Documenteach worker’s pre-layoff job function and post-layoff job function. Documentthe job requirements and job descriptions.

Take home all personal possessions before the layoffs. Be discrete, as you do not want to give the impression that you are considering quitting. Many workers are laid off without being given a chance to clean out their desk, cubicle, or office.

If you believe you will be laid off in the future, start taking home your personal possessions today. Be as discreet as possible.

Put together a portfolio of your work. If you are laid off, you will be able to ask permission from your former boss to take it with you. This will help you secure jobs in the future.

Stay professional, keep your head up.

When you are laid off, especially in a bad economy, you and your family will experience an emotional roller coaster. No matter what, keep your chin up, stay proud, and stay professional. People will always remember the one person who lost his/her head and acted unprofessionally on the day of the layoff. Perhaps everyone will even laugh about it and say “I wish I had the guts to say/do that!” But rest assured, the person who acts out will be the person without a reference and without a job tomorrow.

First ask for references

When you are laid off, before handling any other business, be sure to obtain references. Ask your boss for a letter of reference, and ask him what he will tell potential employers when they call. Ask permission to take your portfolio to future job interviews.

Also ask your colleagues and any management with whom you worked for references and letters. Be open to writing your own letters and asking others to sign them. When layoffs occur, many people are stressed, tired, or very busy, and they often prefer you to writeyour own. As long as you are well-liked and honest, most people will sign them.

Get contact information from references who are also being laid off.

Register at your state unemployment office

If you are laid off, whether or not you are eligible for unemployment compensation, it is important that you register as an unemployed worker.

COBRA Insurance

Get as much information about COBRA from your current employer - even if you don’t think that you will need it. You may be tempted to go without health insurance because it is expensive. Don’t! Not even for a few weeks!

Also note that if you are living with a domestic partner or spouse, you may be able to get health insurance through their benefit plan.

Negotiate severance documents and package

If you are laid off, do not sign your exit agreement without talking to a qualified attorney. If you need help, CONTACT US.

Ask what type of financial, emotional, and career counseling the company is offering to laid off employees. Often companies only offer this to employees who request it. So if you don’t request it, you may be out of luck! If you believe you are strong enough to get through this without emotional or financial counseling, think again. Your spouse, children, and other family and friends will put pressure on you without even realizing it. Your spouse and children may also be affected emotionally, so they may need that extra support or counseling. Also, financial counseling can often offer alternatives to meeting those hefty payments that you may no longer be able to afford.

For more advice, read this excellent ARTICLE about financial advice for layed off workers.

SOURCE link.

Posted by Elvis on 10/31/04 •
Section Dealing with Layoff
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In memory of the layed off workers of AT&T

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