I Just Found Out I’m Losing My Job and Am Being Offered a Severance…Can I Negotiate My Severance?

Your severance agreement actually tells you exactly what you should do. You should consult with a lawyer regarding your severance. I will be honest with you. In many cases, companies are not willing to negotiate a severance, but I am also aware of when companies may be more negotiable. My approach is two pronged: 

  1. Evaluate your employment situation to see if there are any legal or other issues that would lead your company to negotiate your severance; and
  2. Determine if you can receive unemployment immediately rather than waiting for your severance to run out

Do You Have A Situation That Merits Severance Negotiation for A Larger Severance? 

I have significant experience in severance negotiation on behalf of my clients. I am happy to identify whether you would benefit from retaining me to engage in severance negotiation. There is an up front fee for my services in negotiating your severance and then I take a contingent interest in the amount of increase in the severance amount when I do negotiations. I will be up front and honest with you. A lot of people call me wanting to negotiate their severances and willing to pay for that service. If I don’t think you are likely to benefit from retaining me, I won’t let you hire me. I usually spend 15 to 30 minutes on the phone with a client for free reviewing their situation and determining if I can help. I have successfully negotiated for tens of thousands more dollars on behalf of individuals who retained me. 

Furthermore, when you hire me for severance negotiation, I also do what I can to maximize how quickly you receive unemployment compensation. Even if the company won’t negotiate, the fees you paid me will be paid by the additional unemployment compensation you receive in the vast majority of situations. 

How Unemployment and Severances Work Generally

In general, the law is written so if you get a severance, your unemployment compensation is delayed by the number of weeks of the severance pay. Basically, the law is written to prevent you from double dipping and receiving severance pay and unemployment at the same time. There are several important exceptions to these rules. You need an attorney to determine if you meet these exceptions and navigate you through the unemployment process

Let’s say you are an employee being offered 10 weeks of severance. If you don’t know how to navigate the system, unemployment will apply its general rule to you and you won’t be able to collect unemployment for 10 weeks. That’s a maximum of $5,500 that you are losing by not having the information you need. You just got laid off from your job… you need that money the most.

What You Could Lose in Unemployment by Not Consulting A Lawyer ($50,000/yr assumed)

Assuming that you remain unemployed for the duration of the number of weeks of severance pay you receive and obtain new employment immediately after your severance expires, here are the amounts of money you could lose by not consulting an attorney. 

Weeks of Severance  

Compensation You Could Lose 

8

$4,400

12

$6,600

16

$8,800

20

$11,000

24

$13,200

When you are most financially vulnerable, maximize your severance and unemployment compensation, so you can pay your bills while looking for your next job. 


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