5 Tips for Negotiating a Severance Agreement

Despite your hard work and dedication, there’s always a chance the company you work for will lay you off. It happens to more Americans than you might think, and a severance package is often the only compensation they receive.

Meant to create a smooth departure, severance agreements provide you with a sum of money to ease the pain of being laid off. Unfortunately, employers expect you to agree to their terms which often include signing away specific rights. Before signing anything, here’s what you need to know.

1. You’re Not Required to Take Their First Offer

Employers attempt to persuade their employees into signing the first offer provided. They hope the sum is enough to get you to sign, but that isn’t always the case. You don’t have to accept their offer if you feel it is too low.

What you should do, in any scenario, is immediately ask for more money. A severance agreement buys your employer legal protection when laying employees off. It’s already worth their while, so make it worth yours as well. If you have a strong case for more cash, fight for it.

2. Don’t Forget About Benefits

Leaving with a higher sum is a wonderful feeling, but you’re owed more than just that for your hard work. Losing your job means your healthcare is going with it. Severance agreement attorneys argue that you should fight to stay on the company’s healthcare plan for at least three months after the layoff to avoid paying out-of-pocket medical expenses until you can secure another position that provides insurance.

3. Stay Professional

Layoffs never happen at opportune times. You may have just bought a house, are having a baby, or taken out a loan that required your current income. While these are all excellent reasons why you need more money, you may find that your employer simply doesn’t care.

When thinking of reasons to argue more pay, it’s best to stay professional and stick to business. Focus on your time with the company, the work you’ve put in, and all that you’ve accomplished during your time as an employee.

4. Let Them Sweat

Attorneys highly recommend waiting to sign the agreement. After just hearing that you’re getting laid off, you might not be in the right mindset to negotiate. Take the agreement home, wait until you’re calm, then consider your counteroffer.

5. Avoid the Conflict Cause

It’s a common practice amongst employers to include restrictions in their severance agreements. Usually, they don’t want you to work for any competing companies after the layoff for at least six months. If that’s the case, don’t sign until you consider the consequences.

Your skills as a worker are tailored to a specific industry. If you can’t work for another company in your field, then where are you going to do next? Six months is a long time to go without a paycheck, which is why you should use these restrictions as leverage.

If the term is six months, then demand six month’s salary from your employer to cover your losses. These types of negotiations are difficult, which is why hiring a professional employment law attorney is an excellent idea. They can get you the money you deserve for your hard work and loyalty to the company laying you off.