What to Do If You Get Retrenched From Your Job

Being retrenched can leave you shaken and unsure of what next to do. That loss of finance stability and job security form just one part of the picture; there’s also the fact that you may feel betrayed, confused and frustrated.

Here’s what you should do if you’ve been retrenched from your job.

Check your employment contract (and get a referral letter)

When the news has been delivered by HR or your reporting manager, ask about next steps in the process — such as whether you’ll be able to encash your remaining days of leave. Companies typically issue official letters of retrenchment, so if you don’t get one, insist on it.

You should also check the termination clause in your employment contract, just to ensure your notice period matches up with what was previously indicated.

And whether or not you’re on good terms with your reporting manager, make it a point to ask for a referral letter. This, together with proof of your retrenchment, would work in your favour when applying for future jobs.

Find out about your severance package

Along with your retrenchment letter and notice period, you might receive additional remuneration, which must be paid to you on your last day of work. According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), this really depends on the length of your work with the company.

For instance, MOM dictates that employees who’ve served the company for at least two years are entitled to retrenchment benefits, which are based on what’s been set out in your employment contract.

How much am I entitled to if I got retrenched?

You should be paid between two weeks to one months’ salary per year of service, depending on your role in the company — as well as the industry within which you work. It’s also an employer’s responsibility to ensure reasonable effort is made to help affected employees look for alternative jobs.

In Singapore, e2i and Workforce Singapore (WSG) are popular portals that many companies employ to fill the gaps for retrenched staff. The service includes career guidance, job-matching and skills-upgrading services.

What if I got a pay cut before my retrenchment?

Under such circumstances, your retrenchment payout should be based on your original salary (read: before your pay cut). However, you should also note that no CPF contributions will be made on retrenchment benefits.

Maintain your professionalism

It’s important not to burn your bridges with the company, despite the humiliation or frustration you may feel. You never know when you might need a referral — or if you’ll chance on an ex-colleague at a future job interview. So keep your calm even if you feel quite the opposite, and avoid badmouthing your manager or colleagues.

Also, don’t forget employment contracts are binding for a certain period of time. That means you shouldn’t divulge or leak confidential information, whether before or after your departure. Instead, comply with the company’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) as part of the handover process. You might be required to clear all your files on your company laptop, for instance, or surrender all passwords to work-related accounts.

Update your CV and LinkedIn page

Retrenchment is often cloaked in shame, but it really shouldn’t be. So rather than try to conceal the fact that you were let go, be upfront about it during job interviews. It’s unlikely a prospective employer would penalise you for circumstances that were outside of your control.

On that, update your CV and LinkedIn profile in preparation for your next role. Focus on your areas of expertise, and include any achievements you may have contributed to during your time with your former employer.

Talk it out with someone you trust

Rather than reign in your anger or keep your worries to yourself, find comfort in these feelings by talking to a close relative or friend.

The alternative lies in seeking out a counsellor; this likewise ensures a judgement-free space for you to clear your head, and can be done over phone. It can seem daunting talking to a stranger over the phone — but these conversations are confidential, and will stay that way.

These are some helplines offering free counselling services that you might want to consider:

HelplineHoursHelpline number
National Care HotlineDaily, 8am to 12am1800-202-6868
Institute of Mental Health (IMH)24 hours6389-2222
TOUCHline CounsellingDaily, 9am to 6pm1800-377-2252
Singapore Association of Mental Health (SAMH)Daily, 9am to 6pm1800-283-7019

Accurate as of October 2020

Reassess your financial commitments

In the lead-up to your last day of employment, it’s essential that you sort your finances based on your priorities. You’ll need a rainy day fund to tide you through for at least three to six months, and  may have to adjust your lifestyle to comfortably cope with these changes.

In order to measure how much exactly you’ll need, start by listing unavoidable bills and monthly payments, such as your phone bill, insurance premiums, and transport costs. If you’ve taken up a loan with your bank, you might also want to consider requesting for a deferment on your payments. The downside is, the interest on your loan might continue to accrue, or be paused for only a short period of time — usually three months, tops. That really depends on the type of loan you’re looking at, though.

It’s also best to check your bank statement for subscription plans you may have long forgotten about or don’t use all that frequently — and cancel them.

Finally, this one’s for all the impulse spenders out there: curb your tendency to make trivial purchases like that atas cup of iced latte after lunch, or daily cups of bubble tea.

If this seems an impossibility — and if you have room for a little luxury — reduce your spending on these unnecessary purchases to just once or twice a week.

To simplify things, use this emergency fund calculator to figure out how much you’ll need to set aside while unemployed.

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