Negotiating severance packages

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2023 | Employee Rights

A well-negotiated severance package can significantly alleviate the burden of sudden unemployment. However, the art of negotiation is not innate for everyone. Many employees, overwhelmed by the sudden changes, might find themselves simply accepting what the company offers. Here are some tips to effectively negotiate a favorable severance agreement.

Familiarize yourself with employment laws

There are laws that lay down the rules for employees facing job cuts. Think of them as an employees’ shield in negotiations. For example, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act demands employers to give a heads-up before large-scale layoffs. Vague announcements, such as verbal mentions in staff meetings or paycheck notices, do not cut it. If a company skips this rule, an employer might have grounds to file a claim.

Leverage your value

When discussing severance packages, an employee must be able to emphasize their contributions to the company. It may help if they can provide quantifiable achievements and demonstrate how they have positively impacted the company’s success. A competitive job market in New York means employers are eager to keep skilled workers. Employees can use this to showcase their value and negotiate a more favorable agreement.

Consider noncompete and nondisclosure clauses

New York is strict when it comes to noncompete agreements. They must meet specific criteria to be valid. If an employee’s severance agreement includes a noncompete clause, they must ensure that it is reasonable in terms of duration, geographic scope and industry. It would help to consult legal counsel to confirm its validity under New York law.

Address unpaid wages

The New York labor law requires employers to pay all earned wages. This includes bonuses within a certain period after termination. If an employee’s severance package includes unpaid wages, they must ensure that the timing and calculation align with state law. In the case of disputes, the New York State Department of Labor can assist them in recovering unpaid wages.

Severance agreement negotiations require an understanding of both state-specific laws and an employee’s own value. By leveraging their expertise and seeking legal advice, employees can confidently negotiate terms that set them up for a smooth transition into their next career chapter.

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