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How to Negotiate Severance Pay

Losing a job is no laughing matter. Most people who find themselves being handed the dreaded pink slip hope for a severance package that will be sizeable enough to see them through until they are able to find another job. According to financial experts you can make this happen easiest if you are able to act in a professional, not to mention, proactive manner. As well acting strategically is also important when it comes to negotiating severance pay that suits you.

Stand out from the crowd

If your company is about to lay off 6 people or 60 you will help yourself tremendously by standing out from the crowd and speaking to your employer about severance before the big day arrives. If you wait until THAT day is upon you then you are more than likely going to be out of luck. Most severances packages are made up in advance and by this point in time it is too late to do anything productive for yourself and your situation.

What leverage do you have?

Generally speaking an employee about to be laid off has "five potential sources of leverage" with which to barter for the best severance deal possible. Explore your options and be aware of your rights. In most cases you will be given a period of 21 days or thereabouts to accept or turn down the severance deal your company offers you. If a mass layoff is about to take place at your workplace then it is more than likely to be a period of 45 days. Once you have made up your mind and signed on the dotted line you are allowed seven days in which you are permitted to change your mind. Age discrimination laws in the United States necessitate that this is always the case when a worker is 40 years or older but most companies put this into play for their workers of all ages.

Be aware that severance pay is not legislated but it is something most companies will offer their employees for fear of the consequences if they don't, i.e. being sued or trade secrets going to a competitor. It is common for a company to make an employee about to be let go to sign a document agreeing to certain terms before they receive their severance pay.

At-will employment

The majority of states observe an "at-will employment" rule, which means that a worker is employed for an unspecified period of time and can quit at any time or can be fired for any particular reason as long as it is within legal limits. Many people assume that if they have an at-will employment contract that they do not qualify for severance pay. This is simply not the case in all instances. As an employee you still have leverage. A perfect example is if you were a top performer at your company and then exposed inconsistencies or a scandal and suddenly found yourself being let go. You now have leverage against your company so use it to your advantage. Don't just walk away from your company, walk away with what you richly deserve.

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