Negotiating Your Severance Package – Should You?

Given that the economy is nowhere near as strong as it could be, more and more companies are looking at layoffs as an option that will help them to stay in business. No matter how great you are at your job, there is a risk of the company eliminating your position – and if that happens, it’s likely that they will offer you a severance package. What many people don’t know is that negotiating a severance package is possible.

Before you really start thinking about negotiating a severance package however, there are a couple of things to consider. The most important thing to remember is that negotiating a severance package is not about exacting your revenge on the employer that terminated your position.

But just what is negotiating a severance package about?
1.First, negotiating about the package that you are offered is something that gives you the opportunity to ask for something more realistic. If, as an example, you have worked with the same company in the same position for a number of years, you are likely to look at an offer of two months of pay differently than someone given the same offer who’d been with the company less than a year. Additionally, if your expertise is limited and it’s unlikely that a similar position will open up elsewhere, you may be able to successfully argue for pay over a longer period of time.
2.Similarly, negotiating with your employer about a severance package is a chance to make requests for fair treatment. In some cases, particularly if you only have experience with a given system and way of doing things, you may find that your past employer is willing to offer an additional stipend that will help you to get training as you look for a new job.
3.The negotiation process is about making a clear and professional case for each item that you are requesting. Because of this, it’s important to determine what the severance package contains before you try to get something more.

Ultimately, some severance packages are extremely fair; others seem to be more of a token effort than anything else. If you are laid off and aware of the opportunity to negotiate the package offered, you will want to be sure that you know what your employer is offering; in some cases, it really will be best to accept the package as it is written. However that doesn’t mean that you should just assume that you’re getting the best possible deal.

Before negotiating a severance package, make sure that you know when you must respond – your employer will give you a deadline – then read through the offer. If it seems unrealistic or grossly unfair, you may want to talk to a lawyer about your situation to ensure that you have a solid argument. When you are able to point out the flaws of the severance package as offered and to make a clear, professional case for each request that you’re making, however, you just might find that it’s possible to come away with more than initially offered.

Copyright 2009, Cecile Peterkin. All rights reserved.

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