Mark Johannessen: Hi! I am Mark Johannessen, and I'm a financial planner and member of the Financial Planning Association. I'm here to discuss job loss. Right now, I'm going to talk about unemployment insurance and severance packages.
Not all workers are entitled to unemployment insurance. To help qualify, you will want your employer to confirm that you were laid-off instead of resigning or being fired for cause. Your employer may offer a severance package, probably before you're dismissed. This package typically extends salary and perhaps benefits for a certain dollar amount or period of time.
Most experts recommend that you get any offer in writing and don't sign it immediately. Take it to home and review it closely. Keep in mind this is a legally binding contract. Make sure the company pays you for the unused vacation or compensation time and perhaps a prorated year-end bonus.
You may have more leverage than you realize. Did you recently move across country to take the job? Did you make the company money, because of your special skills or a particular project you headed? Put forward anything that individualizes your situation.
Be careful not to say anything you'll regret. Burning bridges will hurt any possibilities of being rehired and lessen your bargaining power for a severance package or a strong letter of recommendation. You may need to choose whether to collect the severance pay overtime or as a lump sum.
There are some pros and cons to each. Overtime, this may allow you to extend employee benefits such as healthcare coverage and retirement plan funding, that might otherwise end immediately. Taking a lump sum avoids the risk that the company might not be able to make the payments overtime or you may want to lump sum to put toward an immediate goal such as launching your own business.
If you must exercise your stock options within a certain time, review with your financial planner if it is best to move or if you should negotiate with your employer for an extension. Negotiate for the best references and letters of recommendation you can get. Not merely a verification of your employment.
Now that we've looked at some of the immediate considerations associated with a job loss, let's turn to the big picture, basic financial planning considerations during unemployment.