Employment Contracts: 5 Tips for Negotiating Severance Packages

April 30, 2018
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

Leaving a job can be a stressful experience because of the potential financial difficulties that can occur without a steady paycheck coming in. It takes time to find a new job after leaving the position you were in, and unemployment benefits often provide too little income to allow you to maintain your standard of living.

The best way to protect yourself from financial hardship when your time with a company comes to an end is to ensure that you negotiate the best severance agreement possible. A severance agreement sets forth the terms under which you’ll leave the organization and it typically includes getting to leave with a sum amount of money and, in some cases, with some continued access to employee benefits.

Some severance packages are far more generous than others, and a Maryland severance agreement attorney should be consulted to help you negotiate your package if you want to get the best deal possible. An experienced Maryland severance agreement attorney can put expert negotiating skills to work to help you ensure the terms of your departure from your job are fair and provide sufficient financial protections.

While it’s important to have a lawyer negotiating on your behalf, you can also consider a few key tips for the negotiating of a severance package:

  • Don’t sign anything immediately: HR representatives often try to get you to sign an agreement as soon as possible after you have been let go – sometimes within hours. You don’t want to sign the contract right away even if it initially seems generous, as when you sign the agreement you typically promise not to sue the organization and your rights to challenge the initial agreement are limited.
  • Don’t accept a first offer: Many people assume the offer made to them is the best they are going to do. In reality, severance packages are often negotiable – especially if the company is afraid that you might file a lawsuit or is worried there will be controversy surrounding your departure from the organization.
  • Ask questions: Make sure to find out why you are being laid off and what the company’s rationale is behind making the severance offer they made. You should also find out if others on your team are leaving the organization as well. In many cases, an HR representative has a standard stock speech when letting employees go and making severance offers. By asking questions, you can throw them off script and have a better conversation.
  • Ensure you’ll get accrued benefits and continued access to health insurance: If you earned a bonus or any benefits you have not used — such as sick days or vacation time — you’ll want to ensure that your severance agreement accounts for all of these benefits. If your employer was providing you with health insurance, make sure your agreement addresses continued access. While federal law generally requires that your group insurance plan remain available for 18 months after you leave the company, your employer may no longer contribute to paying premiums unless you negotiate for this in your severance agreement.
  • Get help: A lawyer can assist you in understanding your rights and negotiating a severance agreement that is fair to you.

A Maryland severance agreement attorney will help you with the process of negotiating a severance agreement that is fair to you. We’ll work with you to understand your goals and to come to a consensus in a timely manner so you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you can move on to your job search with the minimum of financial struggle caused by leaving your prior position.  To find out more, call The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C. at 410-514-6099 or contact us online today.