While it’s not common, there are several cases where employees have been fired after announcing their retirement. That is usually because the company fears employees will start working less once they retire.
If you’re considering retiring, it’s essential to understand your rights and what you can expect from your employer. Make sure you know what to do if you’re faced with termination after announcing your retirement.
Does Retiring Require a Notice Period?
Notifying your employer is highly recommended if you plan on having an early retirement. No legal requirements exist for how much notice or time a company needs before an employee retires, but some companies demand that employees specify a retirement date.
You can speak to human resources about your employment contract, company policy, and retirement programs.
Still, if you want to be on the safe side, writing a retirement letter is a good idea instead of just making the announcement verbally. Here are a few reasons:
- Making a record of your retirement plans will prove that you gave your employer at least two weeks’ notice. You’ll be able to avoid having your employer use the excuse that you were preparing to leave without giving notice.
- That also documents specific dates, preventing your employer from claiming you decided to renounce your retirement benefits and quit early.
- Putting your reasons for retiring on paper will show that you aren’t leaving because you can’t do the work or don’t enjoy it.
- If you can demonstrate that you are leaving your work with good relationships and an upbeat attitude, it will be much harder for your employer to say otherwise. That can also help ensure clarity on the part of your employer concerning the circumstances behind your departure.
- Since the words in a retirement or resignation letter don’t change, it’s much easier to figure out what they mean than if you verbalized them.
Can Your Retirement Cause You To Lose Your Job?
Unfortunately, losing your job is possible even if you’ve already given a retirement notice.
That is because most workers in the U.S. are “employed at will,” meaning they are subject to termination at any moment, with or without cause, so long as the reason does not violate the law.
Nevertheless, most companies prefer to have their staff go after announcing retirement. If they show you the door, you may cause serious financial problems. If not, they risk having to shell out money for unemployment benefits.
How Likely Is It That You Will Be Fired After Announcing Your Retirement?
Although mandatory retirement is illegal, your chances are pretty high. A 24-year study by ProPublica and the Urban Institute found that roughly 56% of workers over 50 experience at least one termination.
It represents the percentage of older employees who have experienced a job loss after reaching 50. That doesn’t even consider the number of years spent in a company.
The outlook for finding a vacant position in the future isn’t encouraging, either.
According to the same study, only about 10% of older workers moved on to earn equal pay at other companies as new employees.
In addition, they had a more challenging time landing a new job than their younger peers.
How To Protect Yourself From Getting Fired Before Retirement
Some tips for protecting your interests are:
Avoid Announcing Your Retirement Too Far in Advance.
Notifying your employer of your intention to retire two to three months in advance is suggested. Announcing your retirement without ensuring your rights are secured, and your finances are in order isn’t recommended. Even with your retirement announcement, your employer can still fire you.
Give a Formal Retirement Announcement in Writing
As mentioned earlier, having your retirement plans documented in writing shows that you have given proper notice.
That can prevent people from assuming poor performance and bad professional relationships, and your intentions are clear, unlike simply telling them you’re leaving. It will likely also eliminate any speculation regarding your motivations for leaving.
Avoid Letting on That You’re Retiring Before Making the Formal Notice
Things can snowball quickly. It’s common practice to tell a trusted coworker about your plans to retire. However, knowing how office gossip works, doing so before notifying your employers, is probably not the best idea.
Always Strive To Have Good Relationships With Your Coworkers and Employer
Experts recommend that you try to get involved in everything the organization is doing and have as much impact as possible.
An ongoing effort to highlight your skills and creative thinking to wow your employer and create a solid network among your colleagues is beneficial. Remember that they are your future references.
What Should You Do If You Get Fired Before Retirement?
Though it’s natural to feel hurt, anger, and shame after being fired by a long-term employer before retirement, being honest about your emotions and accepting what happened will help you move on. Here are a few critical steps you can take after your last day:
- Seeking legal advice can help you protect your interests. Learn your rights as an employee by consulting with an attorney specializing in employment law: If your previous company made payments into your pension plan, they might try to get those contributions back. For instance, your former employer is not allowed to withdraw any of the money you put into a 401(k) or similar retirement plan after you leave your job.
- The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) provides these safeguards, guaranteeing that your contributions and any vested employer’s contribution are yours to keep. In addition, federal employees will also retain their right to retirement benefits under federal laws. An employment lawyer can also tell you if your dismissal was within state laws. If so, they can help you file an age discrimination claim.
- File for unemployment benefits if you need financial support: Since they terminated you before you could retire, you’ve likely worked enough years to be a qualified candidate for unemployment. Getting a financial advisor could also be beneficial.
- Enroll in a Medicare or health insurance plan: Healthcare benefits provided by Medicare are available to anyone who is 65 and up. On the other hand, you can keep your previous employer’s health insurance coverage by enrolling in and paying for COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) if you are younger than 65 years old.
- Apply for Social Security when necessary: If you’re 62 or older, you are a suitable candidate to apply for Social Security and immediately begin receiving monthly payments. However, you’ll collect a smaller monthly check if you start receiving benefits before retirement age 66 under employment laws.
Final Thoughts On Whether You Can Be Fired After Announcing Your Retirement
Although retirement announcements are typically joyous occasions, they can also lead to unpleasant consequences if you’re not careful. By following the tips we’ve outlined in this post, you can ensure that your announcement goes off without a hitch and that you don’t get fired. If the worst happens and you are fired after announcing your retirement, consult a lawyer to discuss your legal options.