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What To Do When You Are Laid Off Or Fired From Your Job In Singapore

What to do when you are retrenched

Getting laid off from your job is not an easy experience to swallow. But with the current climate of the coronavirus affecting almost all industries, it is inevitable that some of us will end up getting pay cuts, or worse, face sudden unemployment.

To deal with such a predicament, here’s a guide on the dos and don’ts of what to do when you are retrenched or fired from your job in Singapore.

– Dos –

1. Keep calm & maintain professionalism

Being asked into the meeting room with your HR could foreshadow the dreaded news. But whatever you do, reacting with overwhelming emotions won’t look good on you, or the HR department.

Even if you’re on the verge of screaming in frustration or breaking down in tears, try to rein it in first. Maintaining your composure in an office environment is integral to leaving with your head held high. On the other hand, causing a dramatic scene might result in a recording of your outburst circulating WhatsApp group chats or internet forums instead, and saying goodbye to that potential referral.

2. Check with HR if there are any severance packages

severance packages

Termination of your employment is usually in the form of either retrenchment or being fired. There are different employee rights you can seek possible severance packages with regards to this. 

If you’re retrenched:

  • you should receive a notice period to serve.
  • you’re entitled to some form of retrenchment benefits or severance package as long as you’ve been in the company for at least 2 years, according to the Ministry of Manpower.
  • you should receive at least 2 weeks to a month’s worth of salary for each year of service in the company.

If you’re fired:

  • no notice period or severance package in lieu of your notice is needed, if you’re guilty of misconduct in your company.
  • you may be asked to leave the office premises immediately following your notice. 

3. Comply with the standard procedures

Being asked to leave the company might also require you to perform some tasks before you officially become unemployed, such as logging out of all your profiles on your computer, clearing your browser history as well as returning any office documents on hand. If you need samples of your work as future references, remember to save these for yourself as well.

Sometimes, these will be required of you within the day of being notified, or within the notice period. There’s no reason you shouldn’t comply with this, to ensure that your departure is a smooth-sailing one.

4. Request for an official testimonial or retrenchment letter


Being let go from your company is not the most common of scenarios to encounter. But to prepare yourself for the repercussions that might follow, check in with your supervisor to provide you with a testimonial – this will come in useful as a recommendation for future job prospects.

If you’re retrenched during this Covid-19 period, also ensure you get an official letter of retrenchment from your company to qualify for suitable government grants

5. Revise your final paycheck & outstanding leave days

final paycheck

If a notice period is valid, you might want to also check how many remaining days of leave you’re entitled to clear before your official last day. Take note however, starting a new job while you’re still serving your current notice period is usually frowned upon at most companies. 

Depending on your severance package agreed upon and parting company benefits, also do a clean sweep through your final paycheck to see if everything is processed correctly.

– Don’ts – 

1. Badmouth the company, your boss or colleagues

Your first instinct after receiving bad news might be to blast an expletive-laden status update on your social media about your company or colleagues, but hold your horses. Before you announce your new employment status to your online following, it’s better to craft your thoughts thoroughly and fluently to still sound positive.

Leaving on a bad note will only reflect badly on your professionalism, lead to soured relationships with your coworkers, and potentially affect your chances of getting a good recommendation for your next job.

2. Leak confidential information

leaking private information
Rushing to the toilet to screenshot confidential work information? Big no-no.

If your first thought after finding out you’re being sacked is “revenge”, think again. Whether it’s trade secrets or vital client information, you should never divulge these to anyone outside your company. 

In fact, doing so can even get you charged under the Singapore law for breach of contractual confidentiality. The last thing you’d want after losing a job is to also face a fine or a jail sentence.

3. Lie about your situation to future job interviewers

job interview

One of the most common misconceptions among Singaporeans is that getting laid off is an embarrassing situation to go through. The fact is that it actually isn’t. 

Sure, some companies may offer you the option of resigning on your own accord instead of being terminated – but this decision is up to you, as they each have their own pros and cons. Check what each option will entail before you make your decision. 

If you’re retrenched or terminated, take no shame in that either. Instead of trying to cover your tracks for future job interviews, coming clean about your situation will be the best way to explain your unemployment. 

Pro tip: shift the focus of the job interview to the skills and experience you’ve garnered from your previous company, to prove that you’re suitable for the job.

– Next Steps – 

1. Update your resume & LinkedIn profile

updating resume

You’re suddenly unemployed – now what? If you’re not the sort that wants to take a breather from the corporate world and rather jump straight back into getting a monthly salary, it’s time to update your resume. 

Having an updated CV raring to go and get you back into the employment game is the first thing you’ll need before the official job-hunting commences. Once that’s done, updating your LinkedIn profile will also alert your professional contacts that you’re now available to be hired. Who knows, one of them might just reach out to you with an offer!

2. Set job alerts

job alerts

It’s totally understandable if the inertia of finding a job gets to you, so let them come to you instead – via alerts on your phone or email notifications. All job sites have the options of creating a free account, filtering out your preferences like distance from your home or expected salary, and setting alerts for them.

This way, recommended jobs will ping to your phone so you can swiftly apply for anything you deem yourself fit for. 

3. Speak to peers to feel less alone

speaking to peers

Some important ways to get through this challenging time are to lean on your friends for support and keep yourself occupied. Knowing that you’re not alone in suddenly becoming jobless will help with boosting morale, and perhaps even give you the encouragement you need to get back on track to being employed.

With the recession affecting many jobs, check in with your friends and group chats to encourage each other to stay positive. You can even help keep a lookout for apt jobs that suit each other’s skills and interests. 

4. Keep a positive mindset by making a list of things to be grateful for

keeping positive

Before you downward spiral into a cocoon of self-pity and misery, remember that losing your job isn’t the end of the world. If you have spare time on your hands, make a list of other things that you’re grateful for or want to work on.

This is the best time to start on that hobby you always never found time for, spend quality time with your friends and family, or sign up for a SkillsFuture course to improve your chances of getting a new job. You can also seek freelance opportunities as a source of income for the time being as well.

5. Dealing with being retrenched from your job

Being retrenched or fired might leave you confused and clueless as to what your next step will be – take the time you need to process it and decide what’s next in your professional career. Take comfort in knowing that this setback won’t define the rest of your life, and keep an open mind to any opportunity that comes your way.

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Originally published on 10th April 2020.