How to Negotiate Your Severance Package

career advice Aug 26, 2021
Professional woman quitting her job

In an uncertain economy, the chances of being subject to an organization's downsizing or rightsizing process are pretty high. If you get "the call" that results in your leaving your company involuntarily, you may be entitled to a severance package, particularly if you have an employment agreement.

If you've been with your company for at least two years, you should consider negotiating your exit. Here are a few key considerations in negotiating the best severance package for you.

  • Know What's Available. Severance packages include any pay and benefits you can receive when your employment is terminated like additional weeks of salary, pay for unused vacation or sick leave, retirement and medical benefits, some company property, stock options, and support finding new employment. When you know what's available for negotiation, you're in a better position to maximize your overall severance package.
  • Get Clear on What You Need.  With an involuntary termination, you may have some latitude in negotiating your end date, which can be significant because it can impact your medical coverage, retirement payments, vacation accrual, and your overall severance payout. Maybe you're more interested in keeping the laptop you've been using or attending the conference your employer has already paid for.
  • Create a Proposal.  Create a proposal that takes into consideration (a) your length of employment, (b) your value to the company, (c) how long it will take you to get reemployed, and (d) whether this is a part of a merger, RIF (reduction in force), position elimination or other major change. Your negotiation power may depend upon these key factors. Be sure you read through your employee handbook if you have one.
  • Negotiate. You're required to receive your regular wages through your completion date and for any accrued time, so no need to spend time negotiating those points. Depending upon your position in the organization, you may want to consult an attorney before you start negotiating or include them in the process. If you're over 40 and your going through an involuntary termination, you may be asked to sign a "release of claims" and depending upon your circumstances you may want to chat with a lawyer before you sign.

Check out my Career Segment on Negotiating Your Severance on AM Northwest:


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