Whether you think you’re getting fired or you actually got fired already, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and minimize the damage to your bank account and to your reputation. Here are a few of the absolute most important things to do if you get fired or if you think you’ll be getting the ax soon.
1. Go to every doctor you can. If you’ve put off a dentist appointment, go now. Go to your gyno. Go to your primary care physician. Get an eye exam and glasses if you need them. Your employer will likely keep you insured for the remainder of whatever month they decide to fire you in, so do everything as soon as you can. If you’re positive you’re getting fired anyway and you’re a salaried, not an hourly employee, what difference does it make if you need a day off to do this?
2. If you think you have a case for a lawsuit, collect documentation ASAP. This is especially important if whatever evidence you have is in your work email account. Forward everything to your personal, download whatever files you need onto a flash drive or use a file transferring system to send it.
3. Cut your spending. Don’t wait for money to stop coming in to curb your shoe habit. Assume you’ll be out of work for at least three months. Do you need Netflix for that period? Or Spotify? Or more candles? Or to foot the bill for everyone else’s margaritas?
4. Research how unemployment insurance works where you live. Eligibility and rules vary by state, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the process and apply immediately after getting the ax to ensure you receive all the benefits for which you’re eligible.
5. Negotiate your severance package. Companies aren’t required to give you a severance package, but they may offer you one if you sign off on a waiver promising not to sue them, or if they just want to maintain a good relationship with you. Talk to human resources about it, because the worst they can tell you is no—though so note that if you’re fired for misconduct, you’re much less likely to get a severance check.
6. Get your 401K situation sorted out. If you lose your job, you’re entitled to roll over your 401K savings to an IRA account without being subjected to taxes. Make sure your company rolls your money over directly to the bank that will handle your IRA and not to you directly, or you’ll have to pay 20 percent in taxes on the income.