The worst thing happened: you’re heading home with a box of stuff from your desk. You’ve been fired or laid off. Don’t panic because, in this post, you will find out what to do when you get fired unfairly or laid off unexpectedly.
Employment laws vary across the globe, but employees have protection from wrongful dismissal. If you’ve been laid off, there are still right and wrong ways for an employer to notify you.
What to Do When You Get Fired Unexpectedly
Firstly, try not to panic. Losing your job can feel terrifying if you have no other source of income and are worried about paying the bills. Secondly, take a deep breath and consider why the company fired you. Was it justified? Were they acting legally, following employment practices?
A company cannot legally fire you due to discrimination, such as age, gender identification, race, religion, or disabilities (mental or physical).
In addition, firing you because you refused a request to do something illegal or fraudulent is also wrong. Likewise, a company cannot fire you for reporting sexual misconduct, bullying, or other toxic workplace activity.
What To Do When You Get Laid Off At 60
Age discrimination is prevalent in some workplaces. Long-term, older employees may have higher salaries, and a company wants to save costs by hiring a younger employee with a lower wage.
A company may use the excuse that a 60-year-old employee is less physically or mentally able to do their job effectively. If it’s a manual job, that may be the case, but it’s not a sufficient excuse to fire an older employee.
A bad practice is firing, laying off or forcing early retirement on older employees before they qualify for retirement benefits. Compulsory retirement on the grounds of age is unfair and unlawful unless a company can 100% justify the reason.
Your First Steps After Being Laid off or Fired
The most important thing is to know your rights. Gone are the days when a company could randomly fire people without warning. If a company fires you inconsistent with your written contract, you could be entitled to claim damages. If you are a union member, discuss the situation with the leader.
Read your contract, checking every detail, noting how much notice the company is supposed to give you before firing you or making you redundant. For example, if the contract states you should have four weeks’ notice and the company fired you without warning, they are in breach of contract. At the least, with legal help, you can try claiming the benefits you were due to receive before leaving the company.
If you can recall what the hiring manager promised during the interview, write these details down. Were other people witness to promises such as “If we employ you, you’ll have a job for life. We don’t fire people here.” If so, document their names and the date and time of the interview.
If your employer cites a lack of performance as a reason for firing you or “letting you go”, check if you have documented evidence disputing this statement. For example, do you have emails, positive written performance reviews, sales figures, messaging copies etc.?
At the least, a company should honour payments such as unpaid salary, commissions or other benefits due to you.
What if You’re Fired for no Reason?
According to Gov.UK, a dismissal is either fair or unfair depending on the given reason and how you act during the dismissal process.
An employee resigns because the company breached their contract. Examples of constructive dismissal are: –
- The company lowered wages without agreement
- Demoted an employee unlawfully
- Did nothing to prevent bullying, discrimination or harassment in the workplace
- Changed workplace location at short notice
- Made an employee work in dangerous conditions
The company breaks the terms of an employee’s contract, such as not giving them contractual notice.
Even if a company thinks they have dismissed an employee under the written terms of a contract, the employee can still claim unfair dismissal if they believe that the reason for the firing was not the real reason or it was unfair.
Examples of Unfair Dismissal
The following list is directly from the Gov.UK website: –
- Joining or not joining a trade union
- Pregnancy, including all reasons relating to maternity
- Being a part-time or fixed-term employee
- Family, including parental leave, paternity leave (birth and adoption), adoption leave or time off for dependants
- Acting as a trade union representative
- Acting as an employee representative
- Working as an occupational pension scheme trustee
- Pay and working hours, including the Working Time Regulations, annual leave and the National Minimum Wage
Every country has different employment laws. The above information relates to the United Kingdom. A valuable piece of advice is to check the employment laws for your country before getting fired or being made redundant.
In the U.K., Citizens Advice are an excellent first-line contact if you are unsure of employee rights after dismissal.
Do You Have a Right to Instigate an Employment Tribunal?
According to Wright Hassall, employment tribunals numbers rose in 2020/2021 since the beginning of the Covid pandemic by 13.4%. In 2019/2020, numbers dropped by 14.13%, equating to 103,973 cases. Therefore, it’s a reasonable assumption that the pandemic led to an increase in the number of employment tribunals.
Companies cannot fire employees without reason, though it happens too frequently. It’s an intimidating experience, but you don’t have to accept the reason given unless you have knowingly committed an illegal or fraudulent act at work.
For example, suppose you witness illegal activities at work, and your boss is uncomfortable that you are privy to this act and fires you, giving you another reason for doing so. In that case, you may have a claim.
How to Navigate Losing your Job
At first, you may feel angry or afraid of the consequences of losing your job. At this stage, avoid making reckless decisions. Don’t immediately jump onto Facebook or LinkedIn and start bad-mouthing the company or your boss.
Avoid a knee-jerk reaction to your dismissal. If pursuing an unfair dismissal claim, it could harm your case if the employer has evidence of poor behaviour.
If you genuinely believe the company terminated your employment unfairly, consider the following steps: –
- Wait 24 hours before making any decisions
- Get 100% clarity on why the company fired you (ideally in writing)
- Gather as much evidence as possible so that you have proof to dispute the reasons for termination. Collate documents, emails, text messages, and videos
- File a complaint with the agency in your country. In the U.K., it is the Gov.UK site. For the United States, contact the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission
- Alternatively, you can hire a specialist lawyer, though that can become expensive
- If you qualify for unemployment benefits, swallow your pride and do it. The worst thing you can do is look for a job when you feel stressed and worried about money.
Losing your job may be one of the hardest things you ever experience. It always seems to happen at the wrong time. You just got married, bought a house, built an extension or committed money you assumed would be available.
Initially, you may experience a knock of confidence and self-belief and feel angry and baffled by the unfairness of the termination. Managing the mental exhaustion of figuring out what to do next can bring you to a standstill. Allow yourself to feel these emotions because if you bottle them up, it’s hard to let go and move on to look for a new job with the right attitude.
Talk to your partner, friend or coach if you have one. Adopt a forward-thinking approach to navigating this situation. It won’t last forever. You will find a new job.
To give you a little hope, we often hear from applicants that losing their job is the best thing to happen. They found better jobs. Many candidates found better paid and more exciting Web3 careers aligned with their core values.
How to Prepare for a Job Search
Before jumping into your next job, consider what is important to you. Here are a few suggestions: –
- What am I happiest doing?
- What did I dislike and like about my previous job?
- Do I want to work remotely or flexible working?
- Are there additional skills I can acquire whilst I am not working?
- What is my ideal job?
- What are my non-negotiables for a job?
- Do I want to work in the same role, or am I ready for a change?
The prospect of a job hunt can feel daunting. Still, it needn’t be if you focus on prioritising what’s important to you and not apply for every job advertised.
The following steps can help you to create a job search strategy: –
- Evaluate your situation: Sometimes, the worst things happen to us, which leads to better opportunities. Did you enjoy your last job, or was it simply a way to get a wage? Focus on what you want from a job and a company because you could significantly improve your situation with a fresh start.
- Update your resume: Is your resume portraying your best qualities to a prospective employer? Focus on details that demonstrate your value as an employee, including hard and soft skills. Give examples of how you resolved problems and how your efforts impacted a project. Always tailor your resume for each job application, using keywords, tone and language in the job description.
- Network: Instead of relying on the right job to appear, reach out to contacts in your industry and talk to friends and acquaintances. Let them know what you are seeking and follow up after a week. A high majority of jobs fill through networking and not advertising.
- Make a list of companies that interest you: After updating your CV, craft a letter of introduction to the companies you would like to work for. Yes, you may get a lot of rejection letters or no response at all. Still, you only need one job offer, so keep going. It can be another way of building contacts for the future.
- Contact a reputable recruitment agency: CB Recruitment commits to providing exceptional value. Indeed, over 27% of individuals wanting a job in Web3 do not register with any other agency. CBR has a global reach and reputation and works with many top-tier companies. You’re in good hands, so contact the specialist team to discuss your options.
- Stay focused: You could find the perfect job in warp speed time, but it’s unlikely. It’s easy to lose focus and sink into despair as the weeks pass. However, if you remain focused and determined, it’s only a matter of time before you return to work.
- Consider part-time work: While looking for a full-time position, it can help your mental health if you actively work part-time or accept contract work. The income can supplement unemployment support and give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. In addition, if a few months pass before getting the job of your dreams, you don’t have to explain the awkward gap in your CV.
Conclusion: What To Do When You Get Fired Unfairly
When you don’t know what to do when you’re laid off or fired, it can feel like your world has imploded. It’s hard not to take it personally. However, it’s essential to put the experience behind you and maintain a positive and professional approach to your job search.
During interviews, never bad mouth your former employee. It might help to read the top 10 biggest interview mistakes and powerful answers to the top 10 job interview questions.
Remember that the hiring manager only wants to know if you are the right person for the job. They don’t need to know the entire history of your negative experience with a previous employer. For the problematic questions, aim to reframe your answers positively.
Be patient, and don’t panic. You’ll find a way out of this if you are persistent and determined. Contact the CB Recruitment team today for a chat and see if we can kick off your 2023 with a fantastic new job.