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How are severance packages negotiated for terminated employees?

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2023 | Executive Employment

Whether a company lays off dozens of workers at once due to downsizing or engages in targeted terminations based on performance reviews, sudden job loss can lead to significant financial challenges for the employees who have been let go. A severance package can help take the sting out of an unexpected termination and facilitate a smoother transition to a new position elsewhere.

Many workers find the idea of negotiating a severance package very intimidating, and they may ultimately fail to properly assert themselves at a time when their future financial stability may depend on their negotiation abilities. How can someone who just lost their job handle a severance pay negotiation effectively?

Research standard terms

Different industries and professions pose different challenges for those looking for new work. Someone in engineering or an executive role may go quite some time in between positions because their field is very competitive. Other workers may only have a few weeks of downtime before they can locate and start a new job and mostly need certain benefits until they qualify through a new job.

The average severance package within a specific profession and the challenges the worker expects to face after a sudden loss of their job will directly influence the kind of severance support they need. Severance packages often include a combination of continuing benefits and pay. Those who understand what others in their profession receive and how long it may take them to locate a similar job elsewhere may have an easier time establishing realistic expectations during the negotiation process.

Avoid signing anything without review

It takes close attention to detail to ensure that the language in a severance agreement truly upholds the rights of the worker as opposed to simply protecting the interests of the employer. Workers sometimes sign suffering agreements without fully reviewing them, only to later realize that they misunderstood the document and have put themselves at a significant disadvantage.

The higher value someone’s position is, the more important it may be to have support when reviewing the proposed terms for a severance agreement and the actual document drafted by their employer. For many professionals, the best time to negotiate a severance agreement is not at the moment of their termination but instead when they get hired. Those who are onboarding with a new employer can potentially negotiate to ensure a smooth transition when they leave the company in the future.

Those who have recently lost their jobs can also negotiate for severance but may have more challenges ahead of them. Even though the law does not mandate severance pay in most cases, workers can effectively pursue support that will help them cover their basic expenses after a sudden loss of employment under a variety of circumstances.