You've been called into the boss' office. Human Resources is there. Uh-oh. Your hands get a little shaky. Your blood pressure shoots up. You feel the panic rising. You're definitely not thinking straight. When they deliver the bad news, your mind goes blank. What do you do?
Don't panic. Here's a quick reference of things to do -- or not -- to help you think clearly when you get the news that you've been fired or laid off.
1. Do work as long as you can.
If they are giving you the option to work for a few more weeks or months, do say yes. It's way easier to get a job when you have a job. Take that time to send out resumes and pound the pavement. Just make sure you still do your job while you're there, and don't start copying trade secrets or confidential information. That will just get you into trouble.
2. Do ask about getting your personal items.
Many people leave their belongings behind. Security or HR might have to accompany you, but do get your stuff. They aren't allowed to keep your belongings. On the other hand, if it's in your work computer, your company phone, a company notebook, or something else they own, it's theirs. They don't have to let you print or copy anything that's in their property.
If it's important, keep it in your briefcase, your purse, or at home so that this doesn't happen. If you've, for instance, been keeping a log of every sexually harassing comment that was made, you may lose it now. That's why you never keep it on your work computer.
3. Do ask about your insurance.
Are they cutting off your insurance that day, at the end of the month, or later? If you have an upcoming doctor's appointment or surgery, you need to know ahead of time whether or not you'll be listed as covered.
If coverage is getting cut off, it will be reinstated retroactively once you elect COBRA and make your payment. If you paid your share of insurance through the end of the month, remind them. They may extend your insurance at least through the time you've paid, or refund you the difference.
For more do's and don'ts during your termination meeting, check out my post on AOL Jobs.
Thanks again to Gina Misiroglu of Red Room for putting me in touch with the AOL people!
Have a general question about employment law? Want to share a story? I welcome all comments and questions. I can't give legal advice here about specific situations but will be glad to discuss general issues and try to point you in the right direction. If you need legal advice, contact an employment lawyer in your state. Remember, anything you post here will be seen publicly, and I will comment publicly on it. It will not be confidential. Govern yourself accordingly.