A severance agreement is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of an employee’s departure from a company. It is usually offered when an employee is laid off, fired, or decides to resign. While most employees are aware of the importance of negotiating their salary and benefits when they join a company, many are not familiar with the process of negotiating a severance agreement. In this article, we will discuss what to ask for in a severance agreement.
1. Financial Compensation
The first thing to consider when negotiating a severance agreement is the financial compensation. This may include a lump sum payment, continued salary for a specified period, or extended benefits like health insurance. You should also discuss the payment of bonuses, commissions, or stock options that have vested but not yet paid out.
2. Unemployment Benefits
Another important aspect of a severance agreement is unemployment benefits. You should ensure that you are eligible for unemployment benefits if you accept the severance package. You should also ask for assistance in filing for unemployment benefits.
3. Confidentiality and Non-Disparagement
Many employers include non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses in severance agreements. This means you agree not to disclose any confidential information about the company or speak negatively about the company or its employees. Make sure these clauses are reasonable in scope and time and do not restrict your future employment opportunities.
Negotiate a mutually agreeable reference letter from your employer or a neutral third-party reference. This letter should highlight your skills and experience and be helpful in your future job search.
5. Outplacement Services
Outplacement services can include resume writing, interview coaching, or even job placement assistance. Some employers may offer these services to help employees transition to their next job. Ensure that these services are offered and are appropriate for your career position.
6. Return of Company Property
Ensure that you have returned all company property, including laptops, phones, keys, access badges, and intellectual property you created while employed with the company, like confidential documents and patents.
In conclusion, it’s always advisable to consult with an attorney before signing any legal document, including a severance agreement. Negotiating the terms of your severance agreement can be stressful, but it’s crucial to ensure that you receive a fair package that provides the support you need during your transition. Remember, the goal is to depart the company with dignity and respect.