Companies can’t let go

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Feb 27

As faithful readers of this blog know, both Kate and I were laid off from our jobs on December 10th, 2007. Outside of the straight-up layoff, there are tons of details to attend to with the old company in order to move on. It is a true project.

It’s easy for a company to let you go — it’s hard for you to get all of your stuff from them. And you are the one that has to manage them.

Here are but a few examples:

  • The company does not send you a final paycheck accounting in the mail — they just electronically drop the money (appreciated) in your account. Why is this important? In order to file for unemployment, you have to state whether the week you are in counts as vacation pay or not. With no access to company systems and no paycheck accounting in the mail, you have no idea what the company has told your state was your vacation pay, causing questions at the unemployment office.
  • Your 401(k) can be rolled over into your existing or new IRA — but the company doesn’t transmit that you are off the payroll at the time you actually are off the payroll — instead, they do this via a batch method with the outsourced planning company. And the outsourced planning company doesn’t know the batch schedule so you know when your account is freed to be rolled over. Keep checking, keep calling.
  • Your pension is worse. In order to roll over the pension to my IRA, my old company has to send notification to a different plan administrator and if it isn’t done by February 15th, a full six weeks after leaving payroll (with end dates), the pension won’t be able to be rolled over until after May 1st at the earliest. Perhaps later. We’ll see. Check back.
  • Upon signing the severance agreement, I asked for an e-mail confirmation that the agreement was reached. That was now three weeks ago. Back from Ireland, now, I’ll have to call on that one too. Of course, they don’t provide an e-mail address to question the receipt; instead, you have to call.
  • Health insurance through COBRA is appreciated, but you only have a certain window to sign up for it after you clear payroll. But, as before, when you clear payroll is a batch process with yet another plan provider. And, while you are covered for 30-days after your official end of payroll, representatives can only provide a range of dates when the COBRA bill will show up — but you have to pay it within the 30-day window or you don’t get coverage. Check later.
  • Term life insurance coverage that was provided by the company can be rolled over into your personal term insurance at some rate in a plan provided by yet another plan provider. But you have to call and let them know that you want the coverage, they can’t tell you the rate, they have to send you a package. But, they can’t send you the package until you are off the payroll and you can’t ask for the package until you are off the payroll. Another batch process. Check later. Call again.

I have a list — almost a project plan. This isn’t everything on it. If a company can lay you off in 15-minutes with a nice visit to your manager or manager-elect, you’d think they’d get the rest of the process down to something that doesn’t take you a full-time effort to get your benefits while you look full-time for another job.

Companies tout how they are so caring to those that are being laid off, but the truth of the matter is they follow the letter of the law and leave the rest up to you. I can understand that position, but I don’t have to like the process.

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.