Do You Get Severance If You’Re Laid Off

Un-fun fact: No law – federal or state – requires employers to offer you any severance when they lay you off, unless you have a union or individual employment contract that includes a provision for it.

How to Explain Getting Fired

When you’re fired, you’ll want to follow a similar course of action. Explain what happened truthfully and honestly. Then explain what you learned from the experience. This can be the hard part. Admitting you were fired is never easy. But, if you treat it as a chance to start over and to learn from your mistakes, you’re turning a negative into a positive.

Once again, a short and simple answer is best. If you start sharing every detail about what happened, you risk veering into the negative, and you may end up sounding like a jerk who deserved to get fired.

Explain that you were fired, why you were fired, and what you learned. “Unfortunately, I was let go from the job. I think it was a bad match from the start because I didn’t really have the right skills to succeed in that job. But I didn’t realize it until it was too late, and no amount of training or practice helped make up for the deficit. That’s why I’m looking at this job. It’s a better match for my existing skills.”

This is a short yet honest answer that explains what happens and describes what you learned. You even mention what you tried to do to correct the situation, and you take responsibility for what happened.

Hopefully, your interviewer will note that you were upfront and honest about the situation and that you have learned from the experience. Growth in the face of failure is something most employers want to see in their employees, along with admitting their mistakes.

What you should never do in an interview is claim you were laid off when you were fired. As we’ve outlined, there is a huge difference between the two. And, if the company you’re interviewing with calls your previous employer to confirm you were laid off when you weren’t, well, you’re probably not getting hired.

Terminated Isn’t Fired or Laid Off

Then there is termination. While not as common, termination happens in the case of at-will employment. An at-will employee can be terminated from a job at any time with or without cause. This means that if your boss wants to get rid of you to give your job to their cousin, that’s perfectly legal. However, an at-will employee cannot be terminated for illegal reasons, like getting pregnant.

How Much Severance Pay Do I Get?

The compensation employees receive varies across industries and roles. It is usually determined by the amount of time someone has been employed, and Kluger provides the example that often it’s a week or two of salary for every year of employment.

Make sure you get your severance package if you get laid off


Can you negotiate severance pay after being laid off?

This comes as a surprise to many people, but the severance package you receive when you are laid off is negotiable. Even more surprising is that you can negotiate a severance package even if you are the one quitting your job.

What triggers severance?

Severance pay is often granted to employees upon termination of employment. It is usually based on length of employment for which an employee is eligible upon termination. There is no requirement in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for severance pay.

Can I get severance if I quit?

Unless your employment contract, collective bargaining agreement, or company policy says otherwise, or your employer wrongfully terminated you for legally prohibited reasons, your employer owes you nothing when you resign.

What happens when you get laid off?

When laid off, employees lose all wages and company benefits but qualify for unemployment insurance or compensation. Laid-off employees often do not lose their investment in company retirement plans such as a 401K and may be entitled to a severance package.

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