Employee Benefits After You Leave Your Job

Business man carrying filing box of belongings
Noel Hendrickson/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Find out about the employment related benefits that you may be eligible for when you resign, get fired, or get laid-off from your job. Here's information on unemployment, severance packages, giving notice, writing a resignation letter, health insurance, retirement plans, workers compensation, disability, references and more resources for people who are changing jobs.

Quitting Your Job

Providing two weeks notice is customary.

Even if your employer doesn't ask for notice, it is a good idea to offer it. Even though it's not easy, it is best to tell your boss in person. Try to remain positive since you may need a reference in the future. In some cases, you will need to resign in writing.

A well-written resignation letter can help you maintain a positive relationship with your old employer, while paving the way for you to move on. Here are a selection of sample resignation letters to review.

Getting Fired

Getting fired can happen to the best of us. Sometimes there a personality conflict. In other cases, the job can be difficult or there simply may not be a good match between you, the job and/or the company. Try not to take it personally. It doesn't mean that you are a failure. Rather, it means that you weren't meant to be doing this job. Here are some suggestion on how to explain getting fired to a prospective employer.

Managing a Lay-Off

Getting laid-off can happen to the best of us also. As soon as you receive a pink slip, or if you know it's coming, ask what benefits terminated employees are eligible for. Find out about unemployment insurance, health insurance, pension benefits and severance pay. In most cases, the company has no obligation to offer a severance package, however, depending on circumstances, a package may be offered.

Here is a step-by-step plan for how to handle a lay-off.

Employment Related Benefits

Before you leave your job, you will need to know what benefits you are eligible for. You are entitled to receive some benefits by law. Your employer may opt to provide additional benefits other than those mandated by state or federal law.

Ask about severance pay, accrued vacation, overtime and sick pay, pension benefits, and eligibility for unemployment insurance. Request information on continuance of health and life insurance benefits. If you have any questions on what is offered, check with your State Department of Labor for clarification.

Unemployment Benefits
Don't wait to file for unemployment. The sooner you file, the sooner you will start receiving checks. Here are the details on where to file for unemployment, how to file, what you need, eligibility requirements, disqualifications, extended benefits and more unemployment insurance information.

Health Insurance (COBRA)
Your employer, if the firm has over 20 employees, is mandated by law to offer health insurance coverage through Cobra to terminated employees for 18 months. You will need to pay for this coverage. In some cases, employers will pay for coverage for a limited time as part of a severance package.

Health Insurance (Obamacare)
The government’s Health Insurance Marketplace provides individuals a way to shop for coverage on their own, to see how individual and family plan prices compare to COBRA and decide which option is the best for you.

Pension Plans
If you are enrolled in a 401(k), profit sharing or another type of defined contribution plan, your plan may provide for a lump sum distribution of your retirement money when you leave the company. If you are a participant in a defined benefit plan, your benefits will begin at retirement age.

Having good references can be the clincher that gets you that new job. Here's how to request references and how to write them. Don't wait to ask for a reference.

Whether you have been laid-off or resign, ask while your employer still knows who you are. If you have been fired, you may be able to ask a colleague for a reference.

Workers' Compensation and Disability Insurance
Are you unable to work because of an injury or illness? If so, you may be eligible to receive workers' compensation or disability benefits.

More Resources
Do you need time off to care for a family member? Have you signed a non-compete agreement? Are you owed back wages or commissions? Were you wrongfully terminated? Here's more information and advice on what to do.