What To Do if You Get Retrenched

Getting retrenched can understandably leave you shaken and unsure of what to do next. The loss of financial 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, will 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), the recommended amount depends on how long you’ve worked at 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 get retrenched?

You should be paid between two weeks’ to one month’s salary per year of service, depending on the company’s financial position — 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 tap on to help retrenched staff seek other employment. Their services include career guidance, job-matching and skills upgrading.

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 top of 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, vent these feelings and find comfort 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 the phone. Talking to a stranger may seem daunting — but these conversations are confidential, and will stay that way.

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

Institute of Mental Health (IMH)24 hours6389-2222
TOUCHline CounsellingMonday to Friday, 9am to 6pm
Singapore Association of Mental Health (SAMH)Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm
Hear4UMonday to Friday, 10am to 5pm
WhatsApp 6978-2728

Accurate as of January 2023

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 over for at least three to six months, and may have to adjust your lifestyle to comfortably cope with these changes.

Read more: What’s an Emergency Fund and How Much is Enough?

In order to figure out how much you’ll need exactly, 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 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.

Read more: How To Manage Your Finances if You Lose Your Job

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 like 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.

Pro-tip: Use this emergency fund calculator to figure out how much you’ll need to set aside for a period of unemployment.

In conclusion, although getting retrenched is an unfortunate occurrence, you can make the most of the situation. The key is to stay calm yet lean on others for support when needed, understand what you’re owed and make plans for how to move ahead.

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