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Employers: Prepare for holiday layoffs

Beware your holiday stocking this year. Experts say a pink slip could be lurking inside. The end of the year is among the most volatile annual periods for businesses, according to industry leaders, which can lead to high numbers of layoffs. Many employers realize they have fallen short of their earnings goals as the holidays approach, causing firms to blatantly ignore employee interests even as a festive season dawns.

Experts anticipate that national job-loss numbers could reach past 150,000 this year, nearly a 50 percent increase over the fall quarter of 2012. An early example of this carnage is Citigroup, which slashed 11,000 jobs worldwide, sending about 4 percent of its total workforce packing.

Rumors of layoffs often fly through offices at this time of year, which can cause panic, anxiety and confusion. Business leaders say employees can take some proactive steps to ensure their financial security after a layoff. First, call on all of your networking resources to lay the groundwork for obtaining another job. Next, begin crafting the best severance package possible so you can fight for your rights when the ax finally falls.

If you know ahead of time that layoffs are coming, you can be better prepared. Enter your layoff conference with several important questions regarding your financial future. You need to know whether a severance will be issued. The length of that severance is also important. The details of the severance matter, as well. When will payments begin, will the payment be a lump sum, and which taxes will apply? Consider petitioning for health benefits that continue through the term of your severance. Also, ask what will happen to your retirement account upon your departure.

If the severance package does not meet your expectations, you do not have to sign the documents immediately. Rather, take some time to review the paperwork with a qualified attorney who can help you fight for the benefits and wages you deserve. You should always fight for more benefits, more wages and additional services such as career counseling. After all, they can only tell you “no.”

Source:, “Layoff rumors? Gird yourself before the axe falls,” Chelsea Emery, Dec. 10, 2012