It’s a tough topic that has dominated headlines in recent weeks: major layoffs are happening at some of the country’s largest companies, including within the once thought of bulletproof tech industry.
Companies like Twitter, Meta and Amazon have all recently announced that layoffs unfolding.
The unwelcome news naturally has many workers now thinking about their rights as they navigate next steps.
As 2022 comes to a close, the list of tech industry giants announcing layoffs grows by the day, evidence that the sector is not immune to the economy’s recent challenges.
"These companies have experienced a sort of decade of explosive growth. But it appears that that era of exuberance may be coming to an end," Eli Rosenberg, an NBC Tech and Labor Reporter, points out.
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With thousands of employees facing potential layoffs, employment law experts say it is crucial to research and understand workers' rights.
1. Is Your Employer In Compliance With The Law?
CNBC recommends workers should confirm whether the layoff and employer’s actions afterwards are in compliance with the law.
In mass layoff situations, the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires employers to give workers 60 days notice in order to provide sufficient time for seeking other employment.
But if a layoff is only impacting one employee, for example, that could be suspicious, says The Employment Law Group from Washington D.C.
If an employee believes their layoff may not be in compliance with the law, experts advise to consult with an employment law attorney immediately.
For more information on the WARN Act and the federal rules employers must follow, click here.
Next, if any kind of severance offer is made, workers should always consider negotiating.
Employers are not required to provide severance, according to the Department of Labor, but if it is given, there could be room for a conversation, especially since in some cases, employees do have a little leverage.
“You’re going to save the company time and money by accepting the terms of the severance,” said Alexandra Carter of Columbia Law School. “So that could be a great time to ask for more. Maybe it’s more dollars, more months, more time.”
Workers can also ask for other benefits besides pay, such as extended health care coverage, compensation for vacation, personal or sick days you’re entitled to but haven’t received yet, or an employer covering health insurance premiums for a period of time.
Whatever the offer is, take your time agreeing to anything.
Experts recommend not signing on any dotted line without taking time to get questions answered.
3. Prepare For Your Next Chapter
Then, prepare for what’s next in your career.
Employees should ask their former employer for a letter or email stating they were laid off, and not fired for cause or performance.
It’s also a good time to ask for references, including reaching out to former employers and co-workers who are familiar with your skills, and who may know of new career opportunities.
Eric McNulty, an associate director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard University, tells CNBC an employee’s network can often be the most beneficial.
“The research shows that your loose networks, those extended connections, will be more useful to you than your immediate connections, just because they’ve got more opportunities you’ve never heard about,” McNulty explained.
Remember, while it may sound oversimplified, workers’ advocates say it cannot be emphasized enough: there is no shame in being laid off.
The best advice is to try and stay positive, signaling to a future employer that you are ready for the next challenge.