By Chou Hai-wei, a Taipei-based legal consultant

What should you do once you learn you’ve been fired? I have received plenty of these cases recently – and have noticed that those who come to me for advice only ask questions after they lose their jobs. Few people think ahead and prepare for that worst-case scenario of being laid off. This article will help you do that.

I am going to talk about what one should do before, and after, one is fired. Let’s say one is told they will be laid off – then, one week later, told they will be fired. Although courts and governing authorities significantly protect laborers, the expenses and time involved in fighting a case in court are unbearably prohibitive. Unless there is absolutely no alternative, I do not recommend taking your case to court.

Without further ado, let me share with you what you can do instead:

Be prepared

When your company informs you they plan to lay you off, remember to have all the necessary documents. Do not sign your name before you see the documents and make sure they are all there. These documents include:

  • Proof of involuntarily leaving a job
  • Calculation of severance payments
  • Proof of lay-off notice

None of those three can be missing.

Many people fall into a pit of hopelessness immediately after receiving news of their termination. I sympathize with them, but I also must remind everyone to protect themselves and avoid losing both their job and their money.

If you do not have the three documents listed above, do not sign your name to anything.


Photo Credit: Depositphotos

What to do

When it comes to getting fired, things get interesting. In this case, first of all we should do one thing, which is to "refuse," and then take out your phone to record or film as evidence for later. Some companies might be very heavy-handed, so remember to phone up the labor bureau and inform them that a case of malicious dismissal is currently unfolding at your company.

The company has to produce evidence to prove that you’re a hopelessly failed employee.

Case officers should put down the company’s information right away and ask you whether you would like to report it to the labor bureau and apply for mediation. Remember not to accept and leave like an idiot.

I know that it would make the situation hard to watch for everyone, but permit me to ask this question: Who is to be responsible for the upholding of workers' rights? Of course, it’s everyone. Therefore, refuse, gather evidence and report. None of these three elements can be missing!

Gathering evidence

Whether you are presenting a case to the labor authorities or the court, it’s all about evidence. As a result, the evidence you need to prepare is as follows:

  • Contents of the internal performance evaluation
  • The employment contract that you personally signed
  • Personnel reward and punishment regulations

Whether it is getting fired or being laid off, what is at stake is the "last-resort principle." That is to say, the company has to produce evidence to prove that you’re a hopelessly failed employee. It’s fine if you can't gather the required evidence on the spur of the moment. Just remember to provide the documents mentioned above during mediation. The company has the responsibility to produce evidence!

Severance or reinstatement?

There are usually two requests when one is getting fired: One is severance pay, and the other is a confirmation of the employment relationship (to be reinstated). It’s up to you to decide. My usual approach is to file a suit for a confirmation of the employment relationship in court if the company weren’t even willing to provide severance pay. This is because when the court starts hearing the case, it usually makes both parties go through mediation again in the hope that the company would offer severance pay. In view of that, everyone can ponder whether to file a suit or seek severance pay. Remember not to let your emotions guide your decisions!

Whether it is being laid off or getting fired, everyone should have fundamental coping mechanisms. One should respond on the spot rather than seek help only after signing documents. Protection of working rights relies on everyone’s preparation rather than the court or labor authorities. The information in this article appears straightforward, but to really act on it requires tremendous courage.

The News Lens has been authorized to republish this article. The original was published on the World of Ice and Fire here and in the Chinese-language Taiwan edition of The News Lens here.

Translator: Lin Ying-jen

Editor: David Green (@DavidPeterGreen)

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