So, you’ve been offered Severance-Pay and Release of Claims Agreement…

It’s every employee’s worst nightmare: The call from human resources, the sit-down with the boss and that HR rep from corporate, and the scripted declaration of “It’s not you, it’s the economy.”

And although any employee would like to avoid getting laid off, it’s rarely something you can control. But what you can control is how you leave a company—and, most importantly, the size of your severance package. Fact is, there’s often room to negotiate the terms of a severance package, and employees need to know what to ask for, and how to ask for it, to get the best deal. “The severance-pay offer is just that: an offer,” says Career Protection, a national firm that helps employees negotiate severance-pay packages. “That’s the leverage employees have to negotiate their own terms.”

The first step is to understand why companies offer severance packages even though they aren’t required by law to do so. (Hint: It’s not just to be nice.) When you sign on the dotted line to accept a severance package, you waive your right to bring employment-related claims, such as age discrimination, against the company. In that way, offering each employee extra pay and benefits can be a fiscally prudent move, heading off potentially costly legal trouble down the road. So if you find yourself facing the firing squad, how can you make sure to leave with the best possible package?

For starters, don’t sign anything. HR reps often will present employees with documents to sign when they’re laid off. Instead of agreeing on the spot, take the document home and mull it over. Chances are you’ll be less emotional and you’ll have a clearer picture of what the severance agreement offers.
Take a close look at the severance agreement. The key piece of these agreements is the money, that is, how much you get and for how long. You may be able to negotiate more money, especially if you’re a long-time employee and can demonstrate your loyalty to the company. Every case is different, you just need to find the pressure points that work.”

Career Protection suggests keeping lawyers out of the equation. If you hire an attorney to represent you, the HR Department must drag its legal counsel into the discussion, complicating the entire severance process. “The best severance deals come from your friendly human resources department.” We have the best process to negotiate severance-pay without burning any bridges

Contact Us, for a free consultation to review your severance package and how to negotiate severance pay.