When you lose your job in California, you aren’t guaranteed any severance payments. That’s why many employees jump at the chance to sign any severance agreement offered by an employer after being laid off or fired. After all, it’s better to get something, rather than nothing, right?
Unfortunately, this attitude is short-sighted. A bad severance package may force you to give up your rights without offering you much security, making you worse off than you would be after receiving no severance at all. Severance negotiations can ensure that employees are treated fairly after a dismissal and that the employee-employer relationship transitions smoothly. Make sure that you aren’t just grabbing the first settlement offer. Get a severance package that serves your needs.
What To Consider When Negotiating Your Severance Package
It’s in your employer’s best interest to offer a fair severance package, especially if you have been laid off. Severance agreements usually offer the company confidentiality and waive any liability for possible wrongful termination, which makes your exit go smoothly for them, too. Because of the benefits to your employer, not just yourself, most employers will be willing to work with you and your employment lawyer to make sure that the terms of the severance agreement are fair.
Carefully examine all the terms of your agreement before accepting. Make sure that any non-disparagement clause protects both you and your employer. Be sure you can properly comply with any confidentiality clauses. Look at what will happen to any accrued benefits after your termination. If the agreement will affect your pension, your 401k, your stocks, any non-vested options, or owed vacation pay, you need to know ahead of time. Carefully consider issues like health insurance coverage, too. All of these factors can affect the impact of your severance, which you can work to your benefit if you keep them in mind during negotiations.
Consult An Employment Attorney Before You Sign Your Severance Agreement
For many employees, understanding a severance agreement can feel impossible. These documents often hold long clauses with complex conditions attached, and the agreements are rarely transparent for non-legal experts. Since your company likely had an experienced employment attorney draft the original agreement, you are at a disadvantage from the get-go.
Luckily, you can gain back a position of power by working with your own employment lawyer during negotiations. At Wakeford Gelini, we always advise clients to see an attorney before ever signing a legal document, especially a severance agreement. Your lawyer will be able to show you any hidden liabilities and help you negotiate a better severance agreement. Severance negotiations matter, so make sure you have a qualified employment attorney on your side.