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Have You Been Subject to RIF or Layoff? We Can Help


If you’ve received a RIF (Reduction in Force) notice, you’re not alone. The downturn in the economy has local school divisions slashing their budgets, and some positions are being trimmed. Some tips on what to do if you get a RIF notice.

Stay positive

Getting caught in a numbers crunch doesn’t reflect poorly on you. Stay confident that you will get another job with the school division or find a job elsewhere. A positive attitude will help you to take the actions needed to move forward. If you’re slipping into the blues, check to see if your school division offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with access to counselors.

Set the record straight

Ask your school division for a letter explaining that you lost your job through a RIF. (Do not resign, as doing so may affect your rights to recall, insurance continuation, or other matters.) Also, ask for a copy of your employment record. You’ll want to correct any incorrect information. Your VEA/NEA UniServ Director can help you obtain a copy of your record. At home, start files containing your employment, certification/licensure, and job search records. Line up unemployment benefits. Benefits are reserved for those who are out of work through no fault of their own and are willing and able to work. Benefits provide a fraction of your paycheck for 12 to 26 weeks. File as soon you complete your last day on the job, since it may take a while to begin benefits. For all the details, contact the Virginia Employment Commission.

Get moving on your job search

In addition to your local school division HR office, consider applying in other systems. A great way to search online is through Teach Virginia. Need to polish your resume? Check out Monster.com or Career Builder for advice.

Arrange for health insurance

Find out how long your school division insurance will cover you—it may last through the summer. If your spouse has a solid health insurance plan, check into adding yourself. Another option is to use “COBRA” to continue your school system insurance for up to 18 months. This is an expensive option, but it does guarantee uninterrupted coverage. Do not go uninsured, as it may cause big problems when you try to become insured later on.

Weigh your retirement options

If you separate from the school division, you will receive a letter from the Virginia Retirement System outlining your options. Think twice before withdrawing your retirement savings, especially if you want to continue teaching in Virginia. If you plan on a teaching career, or another job in state or most local governments, you’ll want to maintain your years of service so your eventual retirement pension will be sufficient. Consider rolling your retirement savings into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) if you do cash out. Otherwise, you’ll pay a substantial penalty for early withdrawal of your retirement benefit.

Address any licensing issues

Are you a provisional employee? Make sure to confirm your plan with the school division, and be prepared to take the steps necessary to fulfill the plan and gain your license. Are you considering an additional endorsement area or degree? Now may be a good time to get it, especially if you boost your credentials in a shortage area.

Watch your money

If you’ve not had a budget at home, now’s the time to create one. Separate the essential bills from the frills. In need of credit counseling? Check out this page, prepared by NEA Member Benefits and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, for advice on debt and credit management. Check into loan flexibility. If you are going to have trouble making student loan payments, check with your loan providers about loan deferment or forbearance. They may offer some flexibility. The same goes for other loans—don’t fall behind without at least finding out if you can get an extension or possibly pay a smaller amount until you’re back on your feet.

Maintain your Association membership

NEA Member Benefits offers an online resource to assist members facing a layoff, but you must keep your membership current to use the service. The Member Assistance Program (MAP) provides guidance, information and tools for dealing with the financial repercussions of job loss and preparing to find a new position.  In addition to a Job Layoff Checklist and links to useful sites on the Web, the “Resources and Services” section of MAP provides information on special accommodations that may be available to participants in NEA Member Benefits programs. Being proactive is the best way to improve your outlook and your circumstances. Start by visiting MAP online today!

LEGAL RESOURCES

The VEA's popular "Ask the Attorney" column has featured several items on RIFs, furloughs, and dealing with unemployment. Be sure to check out:

 


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