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Awaiting Layoff - Dilemmas Massachusetts

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  • Awaiting Layoff - Dilemmas Massachusetts

    My situation...

    I've been a full-time off-site (telecommute) employee for 9 years.

    Company has decided to pull all telecommute positions back to corporate HQ and informed me of this decision in April. I was offered the "new" job of the on-site position but cannot accept it due to the commute of over 220+ miles each way between my home and office.

    After declining the on-site position, they informed me they would be willing to consider a scenario where I stay on board for a certain number of weeks/months to help document and train others on my job functions in exchange for a severance payout from the company. I would be signing a "voluntary layoff" document in this case. I told them I would be open to this and to please send me the agreement so I can look at it.

    A month has gone by and they have yet to formally present me with the layoff document. I have asked weekly for an update to which they say they are still considering it. In the meantime, they have expectations for me to document my current job so that it can easily be handed off to the replacement. They are in the process of interviewing for that on-site position. Essentially I am now at a point where they are getting me to train my replacement (I have no choice but to comply) and wonder if each day will be my final day with the company.

    I've now reached a dilemma with this situation. They have made it clear in writing and verbally that I cannot continue to work at-home in this role. They WILL be replacing me as soon as they find someone or I finish documenting and training the current staff on my job functions. I am obviously actively seeking employment elsewhere at this time, but have not yet found a job or I would have taken it and left this situation.

    We have 3 children, and when it became clear in April that my job was being eliminated we started to make plans to cut our expenses to prepare for the impending layoff. One change we're making is to cease daycare for at least the summer or until I find new employment. The daycare contract ends in 2 weeks. I've informed my employer that if they truly do want me to continue that there is some urgency to come to agreement.

    If I quit this job in 2 weeks due to the daycare issue involved with my impending layoff, does it disqualify me from receiving the temporary unemployment insurance payments?

    We do not have local family that could be used in a pinch for the daycare like some could.

  • #2
    I am not expert in your state's UI, so this is going to be a very soft answer.

    The problem is quitting. If you do not sign the document and you do not quit, then you will be involuntarily termination and you will very likely get UI.

    If you sign the document (in exchange for severance), then the document (which we have not read) will probably have language that you voluntarily quit and the employer will use this document to argue to the state that you quit and should not get UI. The state then gets to make whatever decision the state wants to make and no one on this website knows what that decision will be.

    I will suggest that you might want to have a local attorney read the actual document prior to signing it. The actual wording of the document likely will effect the answer. You signing a document saying that you voluntarily quit can and should hurt your chances of getting UI.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree with DAW. I would definitely get an attorney to look at the document before you sign anything. Doing this will prevent you from signing something that you do not understand and binding you to an agreement with your employer.
      Good luck in finding a new job!

      Comment


      • #4
        Since currently there IS no document to sign (looks to me like there won't be, why should they pay severance when they can get you to do everything they want without it?), the issue is, will you get unemployment if you quit because of child care issues. Most likely you will NOT get unemployment under those circumstances. It would be best to keep your children in child care until you are terminated. If you are terminated because you can't make the commute, you'd be more likely to get unemployment (this is a soft answer), I don't think you are required to relocate to keep your job.

        Even if the agreement shows up, I don't think you can sign away your right to unemployment. Go ahead and sign, get your severence check (and CASH it, at their bank, if possible) and THEN file for unemployment.
        I am not an attorney, and don't play one on TV. Any information given is a description only and should be verified by your attorney.

        Comment


        • #5
          From the original post:

          I would be signing a "voluntary layoff" document in this case
          "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
          Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

          Comment


          • #6
            DAW, a point could be made that a) a layoff is instigated by the employer, not the employee, and that 'voluntary layoff' is an oxymoron. Also, they tend to look at the substance of what happened, not the form. You can't sign away your rights to unemployment and if that's what the contract looks like, it's not valid.
            I am not an attorney, and don't play one on TV. Any information given is a description only and should be verified by your attorney.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thank your the insight to these issues. I do agree, since I don't even have a document to consider signing it kind of adds additional complexity to this whole situation.

              I did call my state's UI office and ask if a decline of a position that is 3 states and 220+ miles away is considered a disqualifying condition for unemployment. While they couldn't rule on that until it comes time for me to submit a claim, they said that a commute of that far would obviously not be something anyone could normally expect someone to accept and "not to worry" about that.

              The company is trying to tell me they will not offer me the typical severance agreement that comes with a position elimination since they do not consider my position being eliminated. They are changing the position from 100% telecommute to 100% in-office and not eliminating the position. They claim that they can only offer me a voluntary layoff agreement which makes no sense to me. Nothing stops me from just ignoring their request to move/report to the office yet continue to do my job as I have been at home. In that case I would assume they would say I am being terminated for insubordination? I am feeling like am stuck here in terms of doing anything right to ensure temporary UI benefits. I either accept the voluntary layoff (not yet offered) or ignore them and continue to work and force them to take action on their side.

              Comment


              • #8
                My recommendation for whatever it is worth is that signing a document stating that you quit is a bad idea. The only reason to get an employee to sign such a document is for the employer to contest UI. While I do agree that even if you sign the document you should file for UI, I still am going to suggest that signing an "I quit" document reduces your chances of getting UI.
                "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

                Comment


                • #9
                  I do agree with DAW that for UI purposes it is always best not to sign a "I quit" document though I'm not saying they may not get it in some circumstances even if they sign.
                  Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                  Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I would ONLY sign if you were going to get a decent severence check. Unemployment is well aware that companies don't offer you a severence check when you 'quit' and that you were probably let go. No guarantees, but they're not dumb. If they ever get to actually offering the agreement, you might want to run it by an attorney to be sure. But either way, still file.
                    I am not an attorney, and don't play one on TV. Any information given is a description only and should be verified by your attorney.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It took awhile but finally received the "offer" from the company.

                      Two weeks severance payout (I have worked there almost 10 years) in exchange for my sign-off on their waiver and separation agreement. It does say it's a voluntary layoff I am agreeing to and that the company will not contest any UI issue if I do file for UI.

                      To me it's not even close to a fair amount of severance in exchange for me working to train a replacement for my job and to sign-off on all of my legal rights.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It looks like that is all they are going to offer. Agree, it's not a lot. It wouldn't hurt to run the agreement by an attorney before signing. However, definitely apply for UI benefits - it doesn't
                        cost anything to apply.
                        Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                        Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          At this point, unless the increase the severance, I am leaning towards not signing the voluntary layoff agreement. Don't want to deal with the possibility of denied UI benefits for a mere 2 weeks of pay. If I refuse to sign-off on a voluntary layoff they will be forced to terminate me involuntarily.

                          The whole situation they have tried to say my only choice is to comply with their request to be on-site (220 mile drive each way!) OR take a voluntary layoff. I don't agree with that. They can't force me to drive 440 miles to the job or force me to quit can they? I can just continue to work from home until they cut off my access and ability to do so?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by BOSMike View Post
                            I can just continue to work from home until they cut off my access and ability to do so?
                            Until they fire you. Or whatever.
                            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

                            Comment

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