Can You Negotiate Your Severance When You Get Laid-off From Your Employer?

It is important to consult with a Tampa employment attorney, not only for your severance, but for other reasons.  Employers must follow many state and federal laws when they terminate one, or many employees.  An attorney may determine that your termination was not done in compliance with the applicable laws.  If you were laid-off because of a protected status you may have legal options to protect those rights.  If you decide to negotiate your severance package, you and your attorney can consider the following:

  • More money. You can ask for more money, although you should keep in mind the amount is often tied to how long you have been working for your employer.
  • How the severance is paid. You could request that it be paid out in installments so that you continue to get paid regularly while you look for your next job. Or if you are worried about the company’s future performance, you can request one lump sum.
  • Continue in another role with the organization. You may ask to stay on as a paid contractor or consultant while pursuing other opportunities in lieu of taking the severance.
  • Retirement plan contributions. You could request that the employer pays you the unvested amount of your retirement plan, or if you are close to fully vesting, you can ask to move your termination date until that happens.  
  • Stock options. Unlike 401(k) plans and defined-benefit pension contributions, which are regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Internal Revenue Service, you can request to accelerate the vesting period of your stock options or to have them continue to vest after you leave.
  • Health insurance. If you are concerned about health-care costs, you could ask your employer to cover your health insurance until you find your next opportunity.
  • References. You could include a clause in your package that stipulates how your employer will describe your period of employment if asked for references about you.
  • Outplacement services. You can request access to services, such as career coaching, training or help with your resume and cover letter until you find your next role.
  • Unemployment benefits. In Florida, you cannot be prohibited from collecting unemployment benefits, even if you receive a severance package.

Please contact Mandelbaum, Fitzsimmons, Hewitt & Cain, P.A. to discuss your legal needs.