How to Find Out if You're About to Get Laid Off

How to Find Out if You’re About to Get Laid Off

2014-02-10 13:12:34

Newsflash! The economy is not doing so good. Well, maybe that’s not fair to say. It is certainly getting better but, it’s not “happy days are here again.” At least, not yet. (Soon?) Be that as it may, if you are a paycheck to paycheck kind of person, one thing you do not want is a surprise layoff announcement from your boss. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Tardis that would let you peek into the future so you could prepare? Well, I don’t have one to offer you. But, I might have the next best thing.

Do you know what a WARN notice is? WARN is an acronym for “Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification” and… well… here is some legalese around that, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor:

“The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 (WARN Act) is a United States labor law which protects employees, their families, and communities by requiring most employers with 100 or more employees to provide sixty- (60) calendar-day advance notification of plant closings and mass layoffs of employees. It became law in August 1988 and took effect in 1989. In 2001, there were about 2,000 mass layoffs and plant closures which were subject to WARN advance notice requirements and which affected about 660,000 employees.

Employees entitled to notice under the WARN Act include managers and supervisors, hourly wage, and salaried workers. The WARN Act requires that notice also be given to employees’ representatives (i.e. a labor union), the local chief elected official (i.e. the mayor), and the state dislocated worker unit.

The advance notice gives workers and their families transition time to adjust to the prospective loss of employment, to seek and obtain other employment, and, if necessary, to enter skill training or retraining programs that will allow these workers to successfully compete in the job market.”

In a nutshell, if you work for a big company, they have to tell Uncle Sam their layoff plans or get in trouble. Now, how much notice do they have to give you? Of that, I am not sure. My assumption is that big business will do the right thing and let you know ASAP. On the other hand, maybe not. In either regard, you may want to set up an early warning system for yourself. One way to do that is to set up a collection of Google Alerts. Are you hip to Google Alerts? It allows you to automate your searches so that when new information comes into the Google database you are notified. Below is a screenshot of my setting up a Google Alert.

google-alerts

Just in case someone does not already know, I am restricting my results to info from the news (arrow 1) as I only want current information and I am setting my results to return as a RSS feed (arrow 2) although I could opt to receive them in an email. On the right side of the screen, Google shows me a sample of what I can expect from the search now and in the future.

My search is focused on news of weak earnings by Best Buy. Of course, this type of search is only good for public companies. Why a search for “weak earnings?” (Again, just in case someone has not guessed the logic of this.) If a company is losing money, they may protect their bottom line by laying off workers.

Here are some more searches you can set up as Google alerts. Of course, where my searches say “company name,” add in the name of where you work. Capiche?

  • intitle:announces organizational.restructuring | corporate.restructuring “company name”
  • “company name” (debt OR financial OR corporate OR organizational) restructuring
  • “head count reduction” | “reduce headcount” “company name”
  • intitle:rumor intitle:layoffs “company name”
  • company name denies rumors
  • allintitle:  “company name” denies.rumors (bankruptcy | layoffs)
  • downsizing.employees company.name
  • “cost cutting initiatives” ibm
  • Should I buy “company name” stock?
  • “company name” (to.shut.down | to.close.down)
  • “company name” (branch.closing | plant.closing)
  • “company name to cut *% of workforce”

Hmm… I feel like I am missing a step. Oh! (Insert Homer Simpson’s “D’oh” here.) If you want to get a heads up on companies who have already announced layoff plans to the government, do a search for “your state” warn notice 2014 and get results similar to the following:

If you do not have any luck finding WARN notices for your state, you can (of course) call the Department of Labor for your state and ask for a list as well. After all, it is public information. (smile)

Okay, that’s it for now!

Categories: Career Advice

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