Things to Know When Considering a Severance Agreement

Jeff Paul
June 30, 2009 — 2,323 views  
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When firing an employee, many companies today present a severance agreement, or a contract which usually states that the departing employee agrees not to press charges against the employer. On the other hand, the employer promises to provide a payment called a severance package.

Below is a list of a few important things to remember when asked to sign such a document:

The agreement is legally binding, and will waive some of your rights as an employee. Part of the severance agreement typically speaks about a 'release of rights,' which waives your right to sue for wrongful termination. However, if the employer somehow coerces you into signing, the agreement can become null and void. Also, the agreement should not affect the pay and other benefits that you have already rightfully earned.

Take your time. Knowing that you are losing your job can lead to severe emotional distress which can greatly affect your decision-making skills. To avoid making a poor decision, ask the employer for some time to think things over. Every employee has the right to delay signing the agreement, and those over 40 years old can have 21 days to review the document.

Check whether you have leverage for negotiation purposes. If you believe you are being fired on unlawful grounds, for instance, because of your age, race, gender, religion or a disability, consult a lawyer to determine how the case of discrimination can make you eligible for a better severance package.

Maintain your composure all the time. The employer may take advantage of your behavior during the discussion to deny you of the benefits, citing workplace violence or misconduct. Thus, be assertive but polite throughout the negotiation.

Finally, consult an expert. To gain a complete understanding of the implications of a severance agreement, do not hesitate to seek the help of a human resource expert.

Resource Box

If you are being fired, Career Protection can provide the assistance that you need as you engage in negotiations with your employer concerning the severance agreement. For almost 20 years, Career Protection has been helping thousands of professionals obtain better employment terms and benefits. Visit or call 877-475-2948 to learn more.

About the Author

Jeff Paul is a writer and copy editor who likes to share information on many different topics.

Jeff Paul