Can you get unemployment if you are fired? There is no easy answer to this. It is case by case. But let’s look at some sound starting points. There are so many reasons why people get fired. In a time of recession in particular some reasons accord with the law and some just don’t.
If you think the grounds for your firing are unjust, illegal or give rise for concern say in terms of discrimination or harassment, issues of race, age, pregnancy to name a few conditions, and you think you have a case to argue, then first contact unemployment who can advise you. The bureau can also advise on how to get an attorney too if needed.
Certainly getting fired, quitting or being laid off are not the same things when it comes to getting unemployment benefit.
First things first: you need to be sure your employer is firing you rather than laying you off. With this in mind, you can start to sort out your position. Make sure you understand your status fully from your employer and call your state unemployment office to see whether you can apply for unemployment benefit.
If you feel you have done nothing to bring about a firing and have fulfilled your work, then you could be eligible for benefit, and if you know that you have been fired correctly, you could also apply benefit after a fixed period. It is good to know if you need to wait. For all this, you need to know the date you have been fired, the date when you will leave work and how much money is owed to you in terms of salary, holiday allowance say.
There is a belief out there that if you are fired you are not eligible for benefit but this is not always the case.
So get clear. Painful or not, you need to be told on what grounds you are being fired and you will need this in writing. Now, your head might be in a whirlwind and you may feel confused or unsure as to why you have been fired. . . if this is the case, you can get a witness to sit with you to take notes during any meetings.
In large companies, you can expect to be able to sit down with the Human Resources team and go through your contact terms in detail, you might have to work a final term of notice in accordance with your contract, or you might go early with some sort of package. Not all firings will leave you without money to your name. However, make sure you fully understand what the conditions are and raise any questions.
Your witness or your Union rep can also ask questions on your behalf. If you feel you are not being treated correctly and you think will need an attorney, now is the time to get one, not later as you need to start to put the process in action so that you can let the State know your position at all times.
It is easier to leave your position with everything clear and with the unemployment office noting your position too, that way if there is a possibility of making a claim you are already on the way to doing so and are ‘in the system’, especially if anything needs to be backdated.
Sally Ratcliffe is the Associate Research Director to Bright-Star HR. They support agencies and in-house teams in sourcing those individuals that shine brightest in PR, marketing and business development.