Being fired before retirement is not a pleasant feeling. And a lot depends on the age you are fired from your job. Were you fired at 55? 59? Or when you were in your 40s and still have a decade or more of service left?
It’s always challenging to reconcile with the news of being fired as a senior employee. And yet, there is no reason to panic either. If you are sure about your capabilities, you can always find work, no matter how many months or years of service you have left.
If your employers are firing you unethically, you will only give them the upper hand by acting hastily. The challenge here is to deal with the aftermath of the situation. It would be best to deal with it level-headedly to chart your best course of action.
Why Will Employers Fire an Employee Before Retirement?
Sometimes, employers fire employees before retirement because they are very strict about the rules. They will fire the concerned staff if they have found any discrepancy in their work and find that the employee still needs to rectify the error that was pointed out earlier.
However, some employers unethically fire their employees before retirement. They think that way; they would not have to pay the retirement benefits that the employee is entitled to. Some employers may also do so as an act of discrimination against older employees. Their decision may be based on the belief that older employees will slow down the organization.
In such cases, it is up to the employee to prove the employer wrong. And in extreme cases, they might also have to file a lawsuit. It could be to get back their jobs. Or to get an adequate severance package.
How to React When You Are Told You Are Fired Before Retirement?
When you are told you are fired before retirement, the best reaction is no reaction at all. Do not let the shock show on your face. Don’t start asking questions immediately. Refrain from arguing with HR or your employers. And most importantly, do not panic and start calling your lawyers. You will have time for all that later.
The first thing you should do is to let the matter sink in. The one thing you should remember is that the management has already made up its mind. You can’t do much at this point. Rather, you should come to terms with it. And think about getting out of the situation with your dignity intact.
First, you should speak to your employers politely and request a meeting. They may have just sent you an email informing you that you were terminated. You can request a meeting to discuss the details and then take things from there.
Dealing With Being Fired Before Retirement: Steps to Follow
Once you have received a meeting with your employers, here are some things you can do. Please remember to remain dignified and professional at all times.
1. Asking Details
While speaking to your employers, don’t waste too much time expressing your dismay at being fired. Rather, use the time to ask them about the details that led to the termination.
Did they find flaws in your work? Did you end up breaking any rules unwittingly? Did you overstep any clause in your employment contract? Pay attention to the answers and take notes.
If your employer is firing you unethically, they won’t be able to answer your questions satisfactorily. You could use this to your advantage if things turn ugly and you have to file a lawsuit.
2. Clarify Doubts
Ask for details if your employer appears evasive while speaking about why they fired you. Clarify any doubts and make them give you concrete reasons. Ask them to show you proof if they try to bring about any allegations. Or else, ask them why it was not brought to your notice earlier.
Were there any of the allegations mentioned in your employee records? Seek satisfactory answers and be methodical in your questioning so that the employers have no other way than to have a proper discussion with you.
3. Fired or Laid Off
Ask your employer specifically if you are being fired or laid off. And whether your termination letter is worded accordingly. It will have a huge impact when you collect benefits. It will also impact when you start looking for a job again.
Moreover, you are probably a senior employee if you are fired before retirement. Ask your employer about the benefits you will be entitled to because of their decision.
Refrain from signing any documents without going through them meticulously first. You may even ask for some time to consult your lawyer.
4. Pension Funds And Severance Packages
Different employers have different systems when it comes to contributing towards pension funds. A lot depends on the state you are residing in. If you are being unethically fired, your employers might want to remove their contributions from your pension funds.
Even if they have a good reason for firing you, ask them for a severance package. It’s because, no matter what may have happened later, no one can deny your contribution to the organization until that point.
Your pension funds are yours by right. You must also refrain from agreeing to a severance package right away without careful contemplation. It would be best if you decided whether it would be enough to cover your expenses in the aftermath of your termination.
You must also consider how it will impact your IRA or 401(k). Depending on your age, you may or may not be allowed to withdraw your funds.
5. Contacting an Employment Lawyer
Suppose you are unhappy with your severance package, or you feel something about how you were fired before retirement needs to be fixed. In that case, you may have to contact an employment lawyer. They will tell you about your employee rights concerning federal and state laws.
You can also ask them for clarification if you are unsure about any terms or phrases in your termination letter. Ask them how it will make you look when you seek a job again.
How to Get Back on Track After Being Fired Before Retirement?
Here is what you can do to get back on track quickly. Try these options once you have come to terms with being fired before retirement.
1. Look After Your Finances
Be sure your finances are in order. Get an overview of your investments and see how long your savings will last. If you have an emergency fund, see how much it has and whether you need to break into it. If you have to consider downsizing for a while, then speak to your family and do it.
2. Get Insured
If your employer only insured you, you must get separate insurance. Yes, this would be expensive. Yet, it’s a far better option than going without insurance. It would be best to get additional insurance for your family or a comprehensive cover covering most of the ailments during advanced years.
3. Start Looking For a Job
If you still have some years of service left or do not want to give up working just yet, you can start looking for a new job. However, refrain from applying to every opening like novices do.
As a senior employee, many people might already know you by this time. If they see you applying to every opening, they consider you desperate.
You will also be selling yourself short because you do not want to be hired for a lower salary than you were drawing. Hence, use your discernment, and apply to a job befitting your experience and designation before you are fired.
4. Make Use of Networking
If you were fired before retirement, you must have an illustrious career behind you. You may have met many people along the way. Start making use of your connections and look for something suitable.
If you do not want to return to working full-time again, you can also look for part-time positions. This way, you will have some earnings and free time to do as you please. Contact former colleagues and employers and see if they have an opening.
5. Keep Yourself Updated
One of the biggest misconceptions about older employees is that they need to be more knowledgeable about modern technology. Only you can change that perception. Keep yourself updated about the latest trends in the industry.
Please read about the new technologies and learn about them. If employers find you updated about the latest technological advancements, then you will be providing them with the winning combination of experience and expertise at the same time. That will make you a candidate worth pursuing.
Being fired, and that too, before retirement, can dismantle your plans. You might have felt well-settled at your job and hoped to sail through the last few months or years. Instead, you find yourself in unknown territory.
And yet, you are a seasoned professional who has witnessed many scenarios in their professional life. You must make the most of it and turn the situation in your favor. You will surely come out of the situation dignified and get all you deserve.