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Negotiating Severance At The End Of Employment

Posted on May 2014 by S. Ward Heinrichs
Negotiating Severance At The End Of Employment

In today’s very mobile economy, most employees work for several employers during their careers. As one job ends, often employers are open to paying a severance to the departing employee. The primary reason an employer will offer severance is to thank the departing employee for his or her dedicated service to the business. In some of those cases, the severance package will be offered at the beginning of employment. Those types of severance packages may be individual agreements or part of a company written policy. In other cases, the employer has neither a written nor an unwritten policy but is still willing to offer severance.

Another reason employers offer severance is to buy peace. Every employer who gives severance will require the employee to sign a release. In other words, in exchange for the severance money, the employee signs away his or her rights to sue for violations of the law. Very often in a work place that has no severance policy, an employer will not offer severance. In those situations, the employee will often need to aggressively demand it.

Our firm regularly negotiates severance packages. Sometimes, we help employers put together a sensible package and an effective release. Other times, we negotiate severance for the employee. In the latter case, our goal is to increase the value of the severance as much as possible.
When negotiating severance for employees, we vary our approach depending on the situation. In some cases, after discussing the situation with the employee, we take a very aggressive approach. Some employers may not want to litigate with a good employee who has been recently laid off, and the employer may be willing to increase the value of a severance package to avoid litigation.

In other situations, we decide not to even let the employer know we are involved in a severance negotiation. If the employee agrees with that approach, we simply advise the employee how to most effectively negotiate a severance package.

Often we take a middle approach. We advise the employee on how to negotiate a severance, but, later, we enter the negotiations. Usually the best time to do that is after the employer offers a written release. Most releases have a paragraph advising the employee to seek legal counsel to review the agreement. Often in that situation, we review the release and then craft a letter demanding changes to the release. Many times, one of the changes is a request for more money.

In contrast to employee negotiation concerns, employers often have concerns that are not directly related to a given severance negotiation. In those cases, we try to subtly steer the course of the severance discussions toward accommodating that concern.

Severance serves many purposes. It is a way for employers to say thank you, and it can be a way for the employer to buy peace. At the same time, it can validate an employee’s work and dedication, and it can help ease an employee’s transition from an old job to a new one. There are many approaches to negotiating severance packages, and each side needs to consider the ramifications of misunderstanding the other sides attitude and posture and pick an approach that will yield the best result under the circumstances

S. Ward Heinrichs, Esq.
Employment Law Office of Ward Heinrichs
4565 Ruffner Street, Suite 207
San Diego, CA 92111
858-292-0792
(858) 408-7543 (fax)

Employment Law Office of WARD HEINRICHS

4565 Ruffner St. Suite 207 San Diego 92111

858-292-0792

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The Attorneys at the Employment Law Office of Ward Heinrichs are advocates on behalf of clients throughout CA, including San Diego, Santa Ana, Anaheim, Irvine, Newport Beach, Burbank, Santa Monica, Compton, Pasadena, San Fernando, Long Beach, Glendale,El Centro, Brawley, Imperial, Calipatria, Blythe, Calexico, Indio, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Hemet, Beaumont, Cathedral City, San Bernardino, Riverside, Corona, Lake Elsinore, Temecula, Perris, Big Bear, Sun City, Ontario, San Clemente, Ocean Side, El Cajon, Escondido, Chula Vista, Los Angeles and Orange County.

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