Negotiating Severance?

posted 2 months ago in Career
Post # 2
4594 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I think most companies offer these for non-upper execs if they are going out of business, need to lay off a lot of employees (I had friends who got them from auto corporations during the recession), or want to avoid a lawsuit from a fired employee. They’re not required by any means, though, at least in the U.S. (IANAL)

I feel like bringing up what you want if they fire you is a not a great way to start off a new job. Typically, employers want people who are in for the long haul.

What about just negotiating for a higher pay and tucking away the excess in case you ever need it between jobs?

Post # 3
8770 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

I agree with PP – negotiating your exit before you start would leave a bad taste in my mouth as a hiring manager. I don’t know why you’d take less money now in exchange for severance – take that money and save it in a high interest savings account as your own severance package should you ever need it. That’s what I did for my last maternity leave since I took a chunk unpaid – I stashed away money and then once my benefits stopped I set up an auto-transfer “paycheck” from my savings to checking so I barely even noticed it. The same theory would work in event of a job loss.

Post # 4
9725 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

Not a good look, IMO.

Post # 6
754 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2018

I understand where you’re coming from because you want to be covered in case you were to get terminated or laid off again, I was fired but saw it coming. I did not make any mistakes, I could just tell my boss had it out for me and I let them fire me to collect unemployment rather than quitting. 

I did not negotiate any severence going into the job, but when I anticipated it coming, I made sure to disect the company handbook and keep written record of EVERYTHING – mostly PTO and pay periods (in addition to all regular correspondence of course). 

Is it possible you can just ask for a copy of their company handbook/policies before accepting the job or negotiating final pay? I echo PPs and say I would not bring up severence pay because that would be a major turn off IMO.

I feel like just having a good once over on their policies regarding lay-offs, terminations and severence pay would help you make a decision as for what to negotiate in salary wise and be proactive about what you put back into savings or how you want to bank PTO time or whatnot. 

I say that above, because I knew my termination was coming – so I specifically did not use any of my 3 weeks of PTO leading up to it because I wanted the cash payout on my final check instead. I also just stayed on top of them as far as following up with HR when my last paycheck would be deposited too, it just helped for financial planning. 

Post # 8
754 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2018

View original reply
wishlantern :  You’re welcome! I live in an at-will state and my company certainley did fire me at-will, but there was a lot of unspoken saltiness on both sides and I made damn sure I looked over every inch and was given every bit of my severence pay. I went so far as to have an old co-worker email it to me because they fired me so abruptly and it was still somewhat a shock that I didn’t think to ask that stuff when I left. 

Its always good to plan for it, but it sounds like you still have a little salty taste in your mouth, which is understandable – but don’t assume your new company will treat you like your last did. 

Post # 9
319 posts
Helper bee

After the history with the company are you sure you want to go back to them again just for them to lay you off again? Is it just really hard to find jobs in your line of work?

Post # 10
2410 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

Why would you go back to a company with that history with them?

Post # 11
334 posts
Helper bee

Are you just asking what to do with other, future employers? Not going back to this employer for a third time?

I agree with other PP’s- I would not be bringing up what’s going to happen if I’m fired while going through the offer stage with a company. 

The company I work for has never laid anyone off, or eliminated any positions during the 50 years we’ve been in business which was a huge selling point for me when starting with them- I feel secure and this industry is really stable, so I have great job security.

If I were you I would only be interviewing with companies that I felt could provide me job security, stability, and growth. Do your research, there are so many reliable resources available when looking into companies, do your due diligence and ask questions while interviewing.


Post # 12
998 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2016

I work in an industry where layoffs are super common so it’s pretty normal to ask about severance on interviews. So I would gauge it that way… if you work in a volatile industry, it’s not weird. However, severance doesn’t usually apply if you’re fired. It’s generally only for layoffs and a lot of times it’s earned based on your tenure. So you might be able to negotiate something if it’s typical for your industry, like 1 week severance per year of employment (that’s the going rate in my industry).

Post # 13
7414 posts
Busy Beekeeper

I would say its probably better to cross that bridge when you get there (ie laid off). Where I am, the govt sets a very low requirement for notice/pay in lieu of notice, but basically any employment lawyer would be willing to take on a case because we have “common law” standards that are well above that. Ex the requirement is max of 8 weeks, and thats if youve worked for the company for 10+ years. But common law standards are normally 2-4 weeks per year worked. Depending on your industry you could get more/less (ie if its gone down drastically or is really hot) they will adjust based on that. If you negotiate something crap up front but work there for 10 years and the industry changes, you could be shooting yourself in the foot.

Post # 14
400 posts
Helper bee

If you’re asking this in a “should I have done this before returning to my employer who had already laid me off once” sense, then sure – you have a rational basis for your concern and they likely won’t hold it against you because of the specific history.

If you’re asking this in the “should I do this with my next employer” sense – hell no. I’m an employment lawyer in house for a Fortune 100 company. If we got a request for this from anyone lower than a VP level, I’d put the kibosh on the hire, because I think it’s a huge red flag. At least when you’re talking senior level exec, even though it’s not something we would do, the ask makes sense as at that level it’s more reasonable to think we may have employment contracts in place. 

Post # 15
1407 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2019

View original reply
wishlantern :  Never walk into a job with the expectation they will fire you. All you’re doing is giving them a reason to think they might need to.

My absolute recommendation is to simply ask for a higher salary than you’d be willing to accept (i.e. if you want $70k, ask for $75k), save up an emergency fund, and spend some time upskilling on negotiation in case you are fired again. 

For example, in 2016 the company I was working for (for only 10 months) went under, and everyone got laid off. By law, they needed to provide everyone who had worked there over 1 year a severance package. So clearly, legally, I was owed nothing.

But, I managed to negotiate with them enough of a payout to sustain me while I looked for another job – and meant I could take my time looking, rather than settling for the first thing available. Ended up being the best thing. You need to draw on your contribution to the business, and even understand how to strategically lean on some sore spots as well – for me, that was reminding a father of two, that he was sending me into unemployment right before Christmas. Killed him. Nek minnit, this chick gets her severance package and is laughing all the way to the bank. 

A good resource is LinkedIn Learning. Otherwise, read articles like this one. 

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