I meant to write about this a few months ago after I started working at my present job, but between working and going to school full-time I didn’t get around to it until now. If you have ever been laid off from your job and then had to deal with the Department of Labor and unemployment insurance, you know how shaky one’s life can get. First you have to deal with an uncertain future, and then you start to wonder how you are going to meet all of your financial obligations after the regular money flow has diminished tremendously.
I was thrilled when I was laid off from my previous job in December 2012 because I no longer enjoyed working there as much as I used to. I didn’t hate my job or anything like that. My first four years there were great, but the last two were disappointing and frustrating. One addition to staff made some of us weary and uncomfortable. The effort and full dedication I gave to my job was also not really appreciated by one person in upper management. I felt that I was looked down upon by that person. During the entire six years I reported to three different managers and all of them were fabulous, but I knew in my heart that it was time for a change. In November of 2012 I decided that I would start searching for another job after the Christmas and New Year holidays were over. To my surprise the company had a reduction in force during the Christmas holiday season making the arrival of my exit sooner rather than later.
A few days after I was laid off I signed up for unemployment insurance, and as those who have been through it know, you must attend an orientation at the office of your local Department of Labor. I arrived on said date on time. After signing in I was lead to a conference room filled with other people who were there for the same reason. All of us had been laid off from our jobs within the past 2 weeks. A few minutes later a male employee came in to begin the orientation.
I am not blaming this gentleman for anything because I know that he was only doing his job. However, I think there is one important element that the Department of Labor needs to keep in mind, and that is people who sign up for unemployment insurance are not there because we don’t want to work. We are people who were gainfully employed, but through no fault of our own were downsized. I survived three previous downsizings before I was included in the fourth one in December 2012. No one who has a job wants to find themselves out of work and having to apply for unemployment insurance. However, the way we are generally treated is as if we quit our job and now we want the government to pay your living expenses. Let’s not get things twisted. Unemployment insurance is funded by employees and employers as a temporary stop-gap measure for people who are laid off from their jobs. It is not the department of social services. As I stated it is funded by employees and employers. Employers contribute the bulk of that money. This means that it is our money and we are entitled to it if we need it. Yet you walk in there and the general attitude is as if you are trying to sign up for social services and not work if you don’t have to. It would be nice if the employees at the Department of Labor remembered what brought us there in the first place. As happy as I was to no longer work for my former employer, I would have preferred to leave on my own after taking my time to find the right job. I don’t expect coddling but I think a little sensitivity to what newly laid off workers now have to face would be appropriate. I don’t think we deserve to be treated like people who are looking for a hand out, and trying to get out of working again for as long as we can.
Of course everything is not as cut and dry as I am making it sound. If the unemployment rate is high then the money set aside for it by employers and employees will dry up the coffers pretty quickly. When this happens then more money has to be found somewhere to keep unemployment benefits going. Never the less, no matter where the money comes from, people who lost their job through no fault of their own should not be treated like dead beat workers trying to get a free ride.
Part Two of Frustrations of Unemployment is next.