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Ten Tips for Securing a Fat Severance Package

Secure a Fat Severanace Package

The Takeaway: The news on the employment front today is grizzly, so managers could be forgiven for thinking ahead to the worst case scenario. If you get laid off, how can you assure yourself the biggest, fattest severance package possible? Silicon Alley Insider spoke to Kirk Nemer of Career Protection who has answers, including ten tips to make sure that at least you walk away with the maximum amount of cash.

First principle: your employer wants you to go quietly. First corollary: the squeaky wheel gets the grease. So how can you put these fundamental realities to work for you? Here are Silicon Alley Insider's tips:

  1. Do not sign anything right away. After breaking the bad news, the HR rep will try make you sign a release within two hours. Don't. If you're being cut as a part of a general layoff, you have at least three weeks to sign your severance package agreement, which is really an agreement to not sue the company. If you did sign it -- and if you're older than 40 --you can revoke your signature within a week.
  2. No severance package is take it or leave it. Negotiate. Your employer expects you to. The most important thing to them is that you do not sue and go away without controversy. They can't take away a severance package once they've already offered it.
  3. Do not, however, negotiate while you're still in shock. Go home. Eat dinner. Weep. Then come back and make them pay you more to go quietly.
  4. Find out how many others are being cut from your particular office. If it's 50 or more, the WARN act requires your employer give you 60 days notice (or at least 60 days pay).
  5. Make sure they offer continued health benefits. Federal law requires 18 months of continued coverage via COBRA. Sometimes you can make them pay for some of it.
  6. Make sure you're getting the bonus you earned last year.
  7. In fact, make sure you're getting paid for all your accrued benefits, such as sick days or vacation time.
  8. Ask for outplacement services -- or money to pay for them.
  9. Make sure your severance package is commensurate with your tenure. You should get more than the people who worked for you and peers who have been at the company for less time.
  10. Get advice from a professional, not just a blog post.
The Question: Would you feel squeamish about putting these tips into practice?

(Image of a pile of money by Beansoup_67, CC 2.0)

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