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A short guide to severance negotiations

Losing your job in Texas could be a stressful experience if you face the uncertainty of knowing when you will become employed once again. However, if you have been with your company for a significant amount of time, you may be able to negotiate a severance package that will soften the blow and help pay the bills while you are seeking new employment.

Why would your employer offer severance?

Also known as a separation agreement, a severance package is a binding agreement under employment law between a business and its former employee that usually includes financial compensation. Companies offer these packages as a gesture of goodwill when the employee was involuntarily laid off and had done nothing to cause the layoff. These packages are sometimes offered to avoid retaliation from the former employee.

Understanding the components of a severance package is essential to negotiating a better one than what is initially offered. Typical components include:

  • Several months’ worth of your previous salary
  • Pay for accrued vacation days and personal time off
  • Benefits like health insurance
  • Stock options
  • Transition and outplacement services
  • Liability release
  • Nondisclosure agreement
  • References

Negotiating for more benefits

If you have a vague feeling that you may be a victim of wrongful termination even though you have been offered a severance agreement, you’ll have to decide whether you should pursue a lawsuit or use your position to negotiate for more pay and benefits. Decide on reasonable requests and use your leverage to get concessions that go beyond money.

Many companies will try to get their former employees to sign the severance document as soon as possible, but you should take time to deliberate. Read it over to determine if it has everything you need and ensure that your former employer is not trying to shortchange you.