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How to Ask for a Voluntary Layoff

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The word "layoff" usually strikes fear in the heart of employees. However, if you are unhappy with your position, getting laid off can be financially beneficial compared with merely quitting. Voluntary layoffs are typically associated with companies that have announced impending layoffs for cost savings or are rumored to be considering them. If your company hasn't yet laid off anyone, but is showing signs of needing to, you can ask to be placed on a voluntary layoff list. There are some hurdles to watch out for though.

Approach an Ally

You can take your voluntary layoff proposal either to your direct manager or your company's human resources department. If you and your manager have a good relationship, he can help you navigate the details of the layoff. However, if you don’t have a good relationship, approach someone in human resources instead. That way, your actions are well-documented in case your manager doesn’t take it well. Emphasize that your voluntary layoff will save someone else's job during a time of layoffs. No matter whom you talk with, schedule an appointment rather than just dropping the bomb one day after lunch.

Breakdown the Benefits

Clarify what benefits you will receive by taking a voluntary layoff and get them in writing. Ask the company representative if you will receive a severance package. High performing workers who volunteer for a layoff can sometimes receive a better severance package if they negotiate well. Likewise, ask if you can receive unemployment benefits along with the severance, as some states don’t allow both. Finally, discuss how long you will be eligible to remain on the company’s health insurance plan.


Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.

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