Arthur R. Lehman, L.L.C.

Negotiating a severance agreement

Readers of this blog may know when they should be negotiating a severance agreement and what the agreement should cover, but their next question may be how they should go about negotiating the precise terms of the agreement. Employees in New York may fear losing their job offers if they negotiate their agreement or don't sign it immediately, but the truth of the matter is that federal law provides for a waiting period during which employees can review the agreement.

Under the federal law on age discrimination, workers over the age of 40 have 21 days to review their severance agreement. Many employers have reportedly woven this into their company policy for workers of all ages.

So how should one go about negotiating a better agreement? If the employment contract has a non-compete clause that requires an employee to refrain from working in a similar job for a considerable amount of time, employees may want to consider asking for a high severance payment. Some career coaches advise people to consider making a personal plea for more money if they have been working that job for a long time. If an employee's family member is unwell or if an employee has recently bought a house and was not expecting being laid off, employees may want to consider mentioning these circumstances to their employer. Even though companies generally offer one to two weeks of pay per week as severance, there is no real standard. Often, but not always, employees can talk their way to higher sums.

The post should not be understood as legal advice. In order to ensure that the severance agreement covers all requisite areas of business law, employees may consider asking a professional to review the agreement as well during the time they have to look over it.

Source: Forbes, "How to negotiate severance," Susan Adams, accessed Aug. 6, 2015

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