It is rarely a good thing when you’re asked to meet your boss in the conference room in the presence of the head of the human resources department. Chances are you’re on your way out. While the experience can certainly be distressing, you still need to act reasonably professional. Do not sign any severance agreement you receive during that initial meeting.
After all, a severance agreement controls the terms of your departure including your severance pay as well as the things that you will be giving up such as your right file a claim to recover unpaid wages, either now or in the future. Do not quickly sign any severance agreement as it is best to always consult with a lawyer, in particular, an employment attorney who has the experience and the know-how to help you navigate this chapter of your career.
This is a crucial piece of advice because the employer often writes a severance agreement to benefit the employer and not you. Here are a few things to bear in mind when reviewing your severance agreement:
1) Be aware of what both sides want
This much is certain: your employer no longer wants you to work at your job. And, unless you have a contract that states otherwise, you are most likely an “at-will” employee. Which means that the employer can end your employment at any time for any reason which is not illegal. This also means that your employer can end your employment and not give you a severance package.
However, you need to remember that what the company often needs is closure. This is very important to the employer as your signature on that separation agreement limits the company’s exposure to any legal issues that you might pursue. The fewer issues the employer must face means less cost and disruption to the employer.
2) What you’ll be getting
Unless you’re a high-ranking executive, the terms of what you’ll be getting may not be so clear. Top executives usually negotiate in advance their employment contract what they’ll be getting if their employment ends. Other employees do not have such agreements.
When it comes to severance packages, a general rule is that you’ll be receiving two weeks worth of pay for every year of employment, although employers often offer. one to four weeks’ pay per year depending on the situation. Having an experienced employment lawyer in your corner will greatly help you negotiate more severance pay.
3) Your severance pay depends on several factors
With regards to your severance pay, the employer often considers how long you have worked there as one of numerous factors that the employer will consider in setting your severance pay. You may receive less severance pay if the employer is terminating your employment because you did not comply with the work rules or attendance policy. Meanwhile, you may receive more severance pay if your company was bought out and you were laid off Because the company is trying to close the sale as quickly as possible. In any case, you can try and get a good grasp of where you stand by asking yourself these questions:
- How was your performance during your time on the job? Was this documented? The better your performance evaluations were, the more likely your employer is to offer you more severance package.
- What led to your dismissal? If the conditions of your firing were beyond your employer’s control—like the company getting bought out. Then, downsizing—the terms of your severance agreement may be more favorable.
If you have any concerns, do not hesitate to get in touch with an employment attorney at Rowdy Meeks Legal Group LLC who have extensive experience in negotiating severance packages.