Would you accept this offer?

One of my friends was just offered 3 1/2 weeks severance pay if he were to resign. He had been on a “Get Well” program (some HR speak for probation with and action plan.) Apparently they don’t think he is performing well. They explained that if he does not resign and if he fails his “Get Well” program, he will be terminated without serverance pay. It is a 90 day program and he is 70 days in or so.

My take is, they plan to let him go either way and this is a last act of kindness. At least he’ll get paid to look for a new job for a few weeks. I think he should take it.

He believes that he should stick it out and try harder.

What would you do? What would your advice be?

P.S. The friend isn’t me - I’m not worried for my job right now.

What exactly is meant by “failing” the program?

I’d tell him to take the money and run. It sounds like the alternate is termination with cause for failing the probation, in which case, he’ll be hard-pressed to get anything out of them.

70 days into a 90-day probation is not the time to “stick it out and try harder.” Right now, he’s stuck in a hard spot.

Dunno really, !ceQueen. I don’t work where he does and wasn’t sure I understood all of his drunken explanation. But as far as I can tell:
He is on probation
He was given an action plan for improvement
His management doesn’t think he is performing well on the plan
If he finishes the plan without improving, e.g. performing well on the action plan, this would be considered failing.

Get the hell out. That is, unless he has some sort of leverage that could be used to sue the company.

When you’re put on one of those “get well” plans, the idea is not for your performance to improve. The idea is to build a paper trail that will be used as justification for firing your ass at some future point. If you DO improve, peachy. If not… well… hey, we TRIED to help the boy out, but…

He should go. He is waste of space and productivity. There are some people out there who would love to have his job.

Another vote for get the hell out and that the “probation” is probably just for a paper trail for the company. Your friend might want to make sure that he would still be entitled to unemployment, etc., if he resigns. I would be shocked (shocked! I’ll tell ya!) if there was ANYTHING he could do at the moment to save his job. It just doesn’t sound like that’s the way it’s going.

If he resigns, he won’t be able to collect unemployment. If he gets fired for anything other than not showing up, he should be able to (obviously, have him check his state allowances and regulations before he makes a decision). He may be choosing between 3.5 weeks of severance and 6 months (or whatever) of unemployment. Considering that your employer gets tagged with part of the cost of your unemployment, I’d say they’re trying to buy their way out.

Your friend needs to do some research before he decides.

3 1/2 weeks of severance pay is a joke.

But yeah, sounds like they’re getting ready to can him.

What did he do to get put on probation, anyway?

I’m not sure what he did. According to him, his boss is an ass who doesn’t like him and if you don’t drink beer with the boss you aren’t part of the “in” group, etc. etc. I have never met the boss and he may indeed be an ass. I have met some of the co-workers and they speak well of the boss and the company. At last year’s Christmas “party” (they had it at a local bar and I was out anyway. They called me over and shared the free drinks and munchies) I met the guy who shares an office with my friend. I have been hearing since the start what an ass the boss is, so I asked for an inside scoop. I heard a far different side to the story from him. But then, he may be one of the guys who drinks with the boss.

My take on it: If I separate the friendship from the business, I think that my friend has reached “burn out.” He seems to only work so that he can pay to do his hobby (he is very much into playing piano and organ for the church and I think he would prefer to be a professional musician.) I’m not saying this is bad, but I think that if you give the attitude that you don’t need the job, people will think you don’t need the job.

3 1/2 weeks seemed generous to me. My friend has been there less than a year. As far as I know, 2 weeks is customary here in the states (or at least here in PA.)

Since I am in management, I have worried a little that my opinion is colored. I think he should take it and run. I don’t know enough about PA laws to truly comment, but I was under the impression that if you are fired for cause, the company can contest unemployment claims, so I think he won’t get unemployment either way. But anyway, I think he should take it and devote every waking moment for the next 3 weeks into getting a job

I sure like your friend’s attitude about sticking it out and making it better, but I agree with you. He should try elsewhere.

There’s something very funky in all this. People don’t get put on probation plans for not drinking with the boss, and noone really wants to drink with a boss that’s an ass anyway. The fact that others speak decently of the boss says something too. And on top of all that, the fact that your friend has only been there less than a year and is burned out and having these issues is strange. I’m guessing you’re right about his heart not being in the job, and that there may be some personality conflict somewhere. It happens. Time to move on.

Bill H. I agree. I’m trying to be a good friend and be supportive, but this is a big enough company as to be on the stock exchange and my feeling is that if HR is involved, they have done everything legally. I can’t believe that HR would allow a boss to put someone on probation without grounds. I know that I couldn’t get away with it in my job. I kinda compare it to any divorce person I have ever met: I have never met a divorce person whose ex wasn’t the spawn of satan. Some of them are, but I think it is a two way street.

My friend is middle-aged and long since lost his excitement for our profession. He has told me more than once that he doesn’t know how I can stay “into it” like I do (I confess, I’m a geek and still love geek stuff.)

But I am trying to be objective. Not being at the company, I don’t know who is right. I just think my friend would be wiser to take his severance and be happy.

Listen to Jadis. Have your friend check out the law in his state for collecting unemployment. If he cannot get a job right away elsewhere, he likely cannot collect unemployment if he left his job voluntarily. The 3 1/2 weeks of severance will be miniscule compared to the 6 or 9 months of unemployment he may be eligible to collect if he is out of work for that long. And yes, many states allow you to collect if you are fired, not just laid off. But generally if you quit, you’re not eligible for squat. That’s the case here in IL.

In CA you’re eligible to collect unemployment if you “quit to avoid termination,” basically if you saw a layoff coming and got out beforehand. In CA you’re not eligible to collect if you were terminated for cause. This may well be different elsewhere. He should call or visit his local unemployment office and pick up a pamphlet, it’ll spell things out fairly clearly. He might also want to ask HR, “If I quit and take the 3.5 weeks severance, will you contest my unemployment claim?” If they’re a big company, they may not care about him collecting unemployment. (In CA at least, their unemployment insurance rates are based on the percentages of employees claiming, so one employee may not matter to them)

The PA Labor and Industry site says:

and so it appears to me that if he is terminated for a reason, he may be ineligible for unemployment comp. So he could get 3 1/2 weeks or nothing at all.

Jadis nailed it. They usually offer these easy outs because it’s cheaper than paying unemployment. If you resign, you get nothing. And PA has very good unemployment benefits. As Khadaji rightly points out, even if an employer fires you there is no guarantee that you’ll get unemployment if they have a big enough paper trail and can show that they tried everything to bring said employee around. Which it sounds like the company has done. Your friend should probably take the severance because it sure sounds like the company is in a pretty good position to contest the unemployment benefits.

No. It’s highly unlikely that the cost of unemployment is entering into the picture for the employer. Their big question is very simple: “Do we want this guy working here?”. Right now they’re on the fence and leaning towards a no. They’re actually being pretty kind in offering him an out. Khadaji is right on the money: his friend isn’t performing well, and is likely destined for being unemployed without being able to collect unemployment. Better to take the offer of some compensation, regroup and find something better.

I suggest you ask to look at your friend’s “action plan”. Maybe you can tell something from it. Does it seem to have reasonable measureable goals? How is he failing it? With some more info, you should be able to provide better advice.

A good suggestion Boyo. Actually, when they first put him on it he asked me to help him plan it. Basically, they said he was not performing in X areas and made him come up with an action plan. I didn’t give it much thought at the time, but from some of the exchange I now understand. By making him come up with the plan, they are able to have a paper trail saying that he suggested the action items and so he must have believed them to be achievable. The things that we came up with were measurable. They threw in a “complete daily tasks in a timely manner” at the end which is open to interpertation, but other than that, the tasks were all his.

It sounds to me like the company has already decided what they will do with him. And I might expect it to take more than three and a half weeks to find another job, from the impression I got from your description.

I would recommend that he refuse the severance package, and start looking for another job right now. Very hard.