Why It’s Important to Have Your Severance Package Reviewed
A severance package is the pay and benefits that you may be entitled to receive upon the unwilling termination from a company. It may also include payment for unused vacation, Holiday pay, or sick days among other things.
If you’ve reluctantly been laid off from your job and offered a severance package you must take the appropriate steps to ensure you receive what you’re entitled to. Too often employees don’t understand what severance packages are and that they’re an agreement between an employer and employee. Having an experienced lawyer review and negotiate what you’ve been offered before signing off ensures you’re receiving the compensation you deserve.
There are several clauses in a package that employees need to be aware of. A lawyer will be able to mediate what’s being offered, rewriting or removing conditions that aren’t in your best interest or to obtain additional compensation for leaving those conditions in.
- Severance Payment
A lawyer will help make sure that any agreement you sign provides adequate payment above what you would already be entitled to. They will also be able to tell you whether what you’re being offered is within the usual range for your position in the industry.
- Money Owed by The Employer
Money owed to you by your employer can include unused vacation or expenses that haven’t yet been reimbursed. This is money you’re entitled to from the employer whether a severance agreement is signed or not.
- Employee Benefits
This section should outline what benefits will be available to the employee once they leave the company. Benefits can include health coverage among other things, therefore it’s important to have a lawyer review your package so you are compensated appropriately.
- Release of Claims
Employers usually want employees to agree to one thing: release of all legal claims against the employer. An experienced lawyer can review this and make the release more balanced such that the employer must release any claims it may have against you, the employee. They also have the knowledge of which potential claims not to release. For example, the entitlement to any accrued and vested pension benefits.
This is a clause that prevents the employee from speaking about the employer in any defamatory or derogatory manner. A good lawyer, like the ones at Ertl Law, can negotiate so the employer is also barred from disparaging the employee.
- Integration Clauses
It’s important that any promise made by the employer (or their lawyer) is incorporated into the agreement in writing and signed by both parties. Agreements made verbally are not binding and will not be honored or enforceable. Having a lawyer ensures you get what you’re promised.
- Proprietary Information
A common clause in severance packages refers to proprietary information about the employer. It is meant to prevent employees from using confidential information in their future work. A lawyer can help you identify and even document the return of all proprietary information.
- Restrictive Covenants
A lot of times employees sign non-compete and non-solicit agreements with their employers. These agreements are meant to prevent employees from competing in the industry or areas (for a set period) or soliciting employees away from the employer. When these agreements are already in place, an experienced lawyer can confirm they aren’t being expanded on without your consent.
- Confidential Information
Employers always push the importance of keeping severance agreements confidential. However, a lawyer can negotiate terms so that the employee can inform specific parties. For example, immediate family members or accountants.
- Corporation Provisions
Having a clause such that an employee must cooperate with any legal dealings or investigation that involves the employer is often a requirement. In order to make this more suitable to the employee, a lawyer can negotiate to revise the terms. They could request a change from required to “fully’ cooperate to “reasonably” cooperate, and request that all expenses related to the employee’s cooperation be reimbursed by the employer.
Navigating the world of severance packages can be challenging. They are confusing to decipher without professional assistance and aren’t always in the employee’s best interest. Employers would rather you sign the agreement without looking over it thoroughly than have you bring in a lawyer. Ertl Law can review your severance package and negotiate terms to help get you what you deserve. At Ertl Law, waiving rights unnecessarily or leaving money on the table isn’t an option.