Simply ordinary observations from an ordinary person - sometimes having to do with health care issues, sometimes not. Topics will change as my attention wanders. Yours probably will too....

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Terminator

A co-worker called me this morning with a basic question about our health care insurance. My stomach instantly pulled tighter than a surgeons knot. Not because I couldn't provide the answer which was very easy, but because I know this person will be terminated from his job tomorrow. In fact, I was working on the termination papers at the time he called. It wouldn't matter if I gave out incorrect information because he won't have health insurance in 26 days. Yes, he will be offered COBRA but at $925.00 per month to cover his family there is zero-zero-zero chance that he will enroll. At the end of June, there will be 40 million and 4 uninsured Americans.

This isn't the first time I've been in this position but it doesn't get any easier over the years. Sometimes I know several weeks ahead of time that terminations are coming but can't acknowledge that in any way to other employees. Because of the threat of lawsuits, even (or especially) with blatantly poor performers, the employer must make certain that all protection is in place before the news is handed out. That's my job - to prepare the documentation, to consult with the labor attorney, and to present a business-as-usual face to those on the short list, up until the time that the conference room door closes. And sometimes I feel really awful about the fact that I'm good at doing this. Tonight this particular employee feels that I helped him out today. Tomorrow he'll know it was false help as I ask him to sign the severance papers. And that's what it's like working in human resources.

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