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Rich Kurtzman
Rich Kurtzman

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Laid off? Do these 5 things immediately

Layoffs are coming fast and furiously to the tech industry.

According to CBS, tech companies laid off nearly 60,000 people in the month of January alone. Seemingly every day there’s a new layoff announcement, with Zoom cutting 1,300 jobs as the latest company to do so.

Layoffs have come from companies ranging from A to Z. Literally.

From Alphabet (Parent company of Google, 12,000) and Amazon (18,000 jobs) to Microsoft (10,000) and the well-noted Twitter layoffs (7,500) in October after Elon Musk bought the company for $44 billion.

And when the biggest companies in the world are laying off employees, so are startups and smaller companies as well.

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(Looking at job cuts in the tech industry from Jan. 2019-Jan. 2023. The massive spike on the right represents 115,000 layoffs since Oct. 2022.)

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, 41% of job cuts in January were in the tech industry. That’s a huge number, but it also means folks are being let go from their jobs in other industries, too.

Retailers (13,000 jobs), Financial firms (10,600) and the Real estate industry (2,100) were all hit hard in Jan. 2023 as well.

Being laid off is scary

We know it’s always a possibility, but when you hear the words, “You’ve been laid off,” reality sets in quickly and questions arise.

“What will I do for work?”

“How will I pay my bills?”

“What about my insurance benefits?”

These are some of the most common and frightening questions that may come to mind.

But what can be more concerning is if you’ve been laid off and you are still owed money by the company.

Now what?

Here are three things you should do immediately to ensure you are paid by your (now) previous employer.

5 things to do immediately if laid off or furloughed and owed money

Check your state’s labor laws

45 of 50 US states require employers to pay their employees at least monthly, and some require payments bi-monthly.

Alabama, Florida and Pennsylvania have no requirements, while Montana and South Carolina have some unique rules. Montana’s is, “If there is not an established time period or time when wages are due and payable, the pay period is presumed to be semimonthly in length.” And South Carolina’s rule says, “The employer must pay on the normal time…” which is certainly vague.

Check your state’s labor laws and a good place to start is the US Division of Labor. This chart shows when you must be paid according to state laws.

Then, go to your individual state’s Division of Labor.

Here in Colorado, employers are required to pay their employees within 10 days of payday. At that point, employees can file for a Demand for Payment of Wages.

You may want to reach out to your employer before doing so, but don’t have to. Keep in mind if you are still employed and your paycheck is late, you can send a demand for wages, too. You don’t have to be laid off.

Send a Demand for Payment of Wages

If you’re laid off, you likely have an agreement with your employer to get your final paycheck.

However, if your company simply cannot meet payroll because it has run out of investor money, you may feel like you’re up a creek without a paddle.

Luckily, there are laws and legal demands set in place to protect workers.

If you have been furloughed, laid off or are simply not paid on time, you can — and should — send a Demand for Payment of Wages.

Here’s a link to the demand in Colorado, but head to your state’s Division of Labor website to find the appropriate demand where you live.

In Colorado, employers must pay their current or former employees within 10 days of payday or this demand can be sent.

And it explains, “…terminated employees must be paid immediately, with limited exceptions…”

Once you download the Demand for Wages, fill it out, print it and mail it to your employer. When you go down to the local post office, make sure to mail it certified so you can see when they received it.

The employer has 14 days to pay you from the day you send the letter (or text, email or call them). If they go longer than 14 days without paying you, the state will fine them up to $1,000 and in some cases, up to $3,000.

Submit a claim through your state’s Division of Labor

The Demand for Payment of Wages is communication from you to your employer.

But you can also file a labor standards complaint through your state’s Division of Labor.

If your employer ignores the demand you send them, the state will enforce the payment. Keep in mind it could take months to resolve, but most employers will likely pay once they see there’s an investigation at the state level into their business operations.

File for Unemployment Insurance through your state

Do not wait: File for Unemployment Insurance immediately.

The link for Colorado’s Division of Labor and Employment can be found here, and you’re encouraged to look up your own state’s DOL website.

Filing for unemployment insurance is a long, arduous and confusing process. Be ready to fill out lots of paperwork and make sure to read all the qualifications for being paid.

In Colorado, you’re eligible to receive up to $675 per week. While that may not replace your entire salary, the $2,700 per month will certainly help you bridge the gap between employment.

Ask your employer about insurance benefits

If you are furloughed — like a temporary layoff — you can continue your health benefits through your employer.

If you’re terminated, those benefits will come to an end. But, you will be eligible for COBRA benefits. Your employer has 45 days to send you a letter about COBRA benefits which will allow you to continue your current health insurance plan. The drawback is you will be forced to pay the entire premium, including what your employer used to cover for you.

The good news about COBRA is if you are forced to go to the hospital in between being laid off and receiving the COBRA benefits, you will still be retroactively covered back to the date of when you were terminated.

Another option besides COBRA is an individual healthcare plan. Discuss with your family to decide what option is best.

Top comments (1)

mollyyy46 profile image
Molly Grant

Recently for this reason I had to look for a new job... I searched day and night and could not find anything, then I was advised to use ibench and I've got my offer. So you can find a new job anyway