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Options you have when You’re Laid off due to Coronaviruses Closures

With the Novel Coronavirus in the air, states across the US and even in almost all countries in the world have imposed closures of businesses of non-essential nature. The move is completely appreciable because this is the only way, we can bring about social distancing and prevent the spread of the virus, which has affected 396,000 people in the world in a matter of just two months, since its spread in January 2020.

At the time of writing, there have been 46,450 cases in the USA alone, and as the World Health Organization puts it, the US may well be on its way to becoming the most active region in the world for the pandemic to thrive. In such a situation, it is extremely critical to stay at home. The flip side is that this move is a major threat to the economy, that is already on the brink of a huge recession.

Since most businesses are closed, there are no new sales and no fresh business coming in.

There is a looming fear of being laid off from work, which why the New York State Department of Labor saw close to a million people applying for unemployment insurance. The federal government in the first week of March 2020, declared a coronavirus relief bill that adds more than a billion dollars in surplus funding to the social services. As more financial relief may come into play in the near future, here is how one can manage one's finances in this challenging period

If you worry that you will be laid off

  1. Do Contingency Planning – In other words, save a greater share of the money that you earn. You need to build an emergency financial reserve that you can bank upon, in these times of economic unpredictability.
  2. Cut down on your expenses - Americans tend to spend most on food, transport, and housing. Find out if there is a way to cut down on each of these expenses. For instance, if your monthly lease is eating into your income, consider moving to a cheaper place.
  3. Look for a severance policy in your handbook - Go through your employment contracts and employee handbooks to check if there is a severance policy in place that gives you financial support, in case you are laid off.
  4. Check if your region offers job protection – New York came up with a new law wherein employees have been given job protection when they are being quarantined. This job protection may be obligatory or precautionary, depending on the size and nature of business. So, please check if your line of business and area also offers job protection of some kind.
  5. Look for online work – There is no dearth of online work for the person who has the right acumen and attitude. Go to various freelancing sites and community pages to find out if there is work that can be done online, to supplement your income.
  6. Get disability coverage when you are still working – If you are symptomatic, have been diagnosed with COVID 19 or have other health problems, you may apply for disability coverage when you are still working. Certain insurance plans do not give the same benefits if you are terminated or no longer working.

If You are Laid Off

Apply for Unemployment Insurance – Most states are now facing a demand spike already with people clamoring for employment insurance benefits, due to being out of work or in quarantine. The New York Unemployment Insurance recently crashed with so many users logged in at one time. Go the website at a time, when there won't be a spike and apply for your Unemployment Insurance. At the same time, do check with your employer if they are not going to contest your application.

Insist on Healthcare Continuation – In the face of a layoff, an employer has to provide 1 to 3 months of severance payment, a specific sum for COBRA for that period. COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) is a health insurance program that permits an eligible employee and her/his dependents to extend the benefits of health insurance coverage in case of job loss or decrease in work hours.

In quite a few cases, employers may tend to play the severance factor down, it is the employee's duty to insist on the benefits.

Hunt for jobs online – Apart from the popular private websites, the government of various states also have a central website to search and apply for jobs. Keep all options and look out for jobs that match your aptitude.

Take advantage of respites offered by your state - If you feel that you won't be able to pay rent this time, and are panicking, please don't! It is not smooth sailing for anyone. New York officials suspended eviction proceedings from March 16 until further notice.

If you find it difficult to pay your utility bills, check out what your state administration has offered as a benefit. You may be spared the horror of having power or gas connection cut during the pandemic season, on the state's request. It is the same for filing your tax returns – the IRS has no option but to give an additional three months extra for people to file their tax returns.

Late payments may be excused for the time being - Do check with your state law and your bank beforehand, but a lot of financial institutions are coming forward with various relief measures to smoothen the payment process during this period of coronavirus crisis. For instance, New York has announced a 90-day mortgage relief, wherein there won't be any negative impact on your credit score, there won't be late fees charged and foreclosures are either postponed or suspended. You may also voluntarily send letters and emails citing your inability to make payments.

Build new skills - This is the time to expand your wings and diversify your skillset. Money is the reward for upgrading or adding on to your existing skills. There are so many online courses to learn right from programming to video editing and more.

Look out for offers and discounts – Since people will be working from home, there are a lot of discounted offers and freebies available from internet service providers and mobile operators.