Some businesses may not be as loyal to their employees as their employees have been to them. During the economic downturn of 2008, 40% of laid-off Canadian workers were over the age of 45. This article describes the plight of Sean McCann, a worker who was laid off at the age of 51 after 25 high-performing years of working for the same company. It also has experts weighing in stating that in any short-term downturn, companies are looking for short-term cost saving results and not looking at other factors, such as loss of skills and experience.
The most troubling statistic it cites is that between the years of 2009 and 2012, more Canadian workers over the age of 55 were laid off versus the numbers of Canadians that retired. These peak earning years are often vital to building up retirement savings, and laid-off older workers may have to take a pay cut of 20-50% just to get back into the workforce.
If you see other workers in your age group being laid off in your business, don’t give into “Survivor Syndrome”, or the thought that it isn’t going to happen to you for a specific reason. Start dusting off your resume and going to job interviews, just in case. Talking to a career counselors and head hunters at this stage is also a good idea; you are always more likely to get another job when you are already working, and if you can find a solid position at a company that isn’t laying off older workers, that’s your ideal situation. While this can feel disloyal to employees who have been working for a company for a number of years, you have to separate your emotions from the reality of your situation.
The first order of business is to make sure that you are getting the severance package you deserve, so your first stop should be to a lawyer. They will look over your severance agreement and make sure you are getting what you are entitled to under the law. In some cases, they may suggest a wrongful dismissal lawsuit if it is clear that you are being laid off because of your age, but legal costs can quickly eat up any gains in this area so it is only something you should undertake if you truly believe you have clear evidence and a shot at winning. Most corporations have deep pockets and will drag out this sort of case for years.
If you haven’t been a regular recipient of Employment Insurance benefits, you may be eligible for an extension of EI benefits, which can help you through a long period of looking for another job. The Government of Canada also has a Targeted Initiative for Older Workers aged 55 to 64. This Initiative is tailor-made for older workers who live in communities of 250,000 or less who have been laid off and may need skills training to find other employment. You can find out more about it on the Government of Canada website.
If you are close to retirement and have been laid off, you may want to consider a reverse mortgage as an additional financial instrument for your retirement savings. Contact Horizon Equity to find out more about reverse mortgages.