One round of layoffs is bad enough for rank-and-file morale. Subsequent layoffs can be even tougher on remaining employees, who may mourn the loss of their colleagues and wonder if they will be next. Employers can take steps to limit the damage and avert potential liability problems before and during the layoff process. Open communications before and after layoffs, to the extent possible, can help workers come to terms with the layoffs.
Under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, employees who are 40 years old or older are guaranteed time to think about whether or not to sign a release—21 days if only one person is being laid off, 45 days if two or more are laid off. After signing, they have another seven days to revoke the acceptance of the agreement.
When the release is signed in exchange for a severance package, the separation agreement must list the job titles and ages of all employees in the organizational unit, showing which are being laid off and which are not, explained Neil Capobianco, a McDermott partner in New York City, in a recent article by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).