Employees in Massachusetts who are laid off or terminated from their job will need to immediately reassess their financial situation. Given the job market, an employee who has lost a job may be out of work for a period of time. This is particularly true for older workers, who may find it difficult to replace their job and/or salary. It is important, therefore that workers who have lost their job take action to protect their finances, including the following seven steps:
1. Figure out whether you have any accrued but unused vacation time. In Massachusetts, accrued but unused vacation time is considered by law to be salary, and must be paid to the departing employee;
2. Find out whether you may be able to negotiate for severance pay and seek legal advice from an employment attorney if necessary on how to go about it;
3. Seek reimbursement for any unpaid business expenses:
4. Determine eligibility for unemployment benefits in Massachusetts and consider having a provision in any severance agreement that the company will not contest your unemployment benefits;
5. Make sure you receive your pay through your separation date;
6. Determine whether you can take any insurance policies with you; and
7. Federal and state laws provide for the continuation of health insurance benefits. Make sure you understand your COBRA rights.
Employees’ rights in Massachusetts after a job loss are impacted by many factors, including whether the employee signed an employment contract or a non-competition or non-solicitation agreement, whether the job loss was the result of discrimination or retaliation on the part of the employer and whether the job loss was the result of a mass layoff. The loss of a job often has a huge impact on an employee’s finances. It is essential that employees take the steps to find out their rights after a job loss and to take prompt action, as rights may be lost as the result of a delay. Before signing a severance agreement, it is important that employees know all of their rights.
We cannot provide legal advice in this blog, because the circumstances surrounding a lay-off or termination are unique to each individual. If you have any questions regarding this post, please call employment attorney Maura Greene at 617-936-1580.