Should You Quit Before a Layoff?

by Evil HR Lady on August 13, 2020

I’ve worked as a branch manager at a large bank for ten years. About five weeks ago, my branch was verbally notified that our branch would be closing in just over 90 days (customer notice of 90 days is required).

I was verbally told they want to keep me and hoped to put me at another branch in town at the same salary but lesser position.

Because my salary is the same, under our policies I am not eligible for a severance package. I have nothing in writing- no termination, no offer for the new position. I’m tempted not to stay through the closing date.

Is this situation on the up-and-up, regarding no severance? Why nothing in writing?

I’ve learned that ten other branches are closing yet it has not been announced internally.

This is where you see me guessing because no one called me and gave me the ins and outs of your particular bank, but here it goes.

They have given you nothing in writing because they haven’t made anything official regarding your position. Look at the word “hope.” They hope to put you in a new position. There are no guarantees here and with multiple branches closing there will be multiple people vying for the few open positions. So, no one wants to give you the job offer if they haven’t yet officially decided who gets it.

There is probably something written though: a Summary Plan Description. Undoubtedly, the people in your bank’s headquarters have already written this plan which details who gets severance, and how much, and under what circumstances. If they are closing 11 branches, this isn’t done on a whim. There is a plan.

Ask your HR department for a copy of this plan. If the person you call doesn’t know about it, ask to speak to the person coordinating the layoffs.

That said, this plan doesn’t determine who will lose their job and who won’t. It would give general rules, but it won’t say “Jane at the state street branch will over the main street branch as the manager and all other branch managers will be fired.” So, it won’t answer all your questions, but it will give you some idea of their thought processes.

Now, as to whether you should quit or not, you can also ask if there is a stay bonus. Often, when shutting down operations, companies will offer stay bonuses to people who don’t quit. They need you to work until the 90 days are over.

If they aren’t offering you a stay bonus, refuse to put a new job offer in writing, and you find a new job, by all means quit. You don’t owe them anything, and there will be plenty of people who also lose their jobs during this that can provide you with a reference in the future.

Do not feel any obligation toward a company. This is not your family and they are not your friends. If they want to keep you, they should let you know, in writing, that you have a job offer.

Of course, if they are offering a good severance package, you may wish to hang around to see if you get the new position or a severance package. If you resign, you don’t get the severance.

But, it often takes longer than three months to find a new job. Best case scenario? You find a new job that starts on day 91, and you walk away with a severance package and a new job.

So, go ahead, job hunt. If you find something you like, leave the old company behind. Don’t rely on their vague verbal promises.

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