Should you accept a severance agreement?

Perhaps you are contemplating a severance offer from your current employer and wondering if you should take it. The short answer is it depends on your situation. 

Severances are optional and contingent upon the employment contract. Employers with more than 100 employees must provide a timely 60-day advance notice of separation. Organizations that do not comply must provide up to 60 days of severance pay to eligible workers. As long as you receive payment for the hours you work up until your last day, your employer has no legal obligation to provide separation benefits. There are rare exceptions. 

Meticulously review all severance offers

On the surface, your severance offer may seem pretty lucrative. It is a promise of pay and other benefits for a set length of time after your termination to help you get back on your feet. A basic severance package often includes two weeks of wages for every year of tenure and additional compensation. The offer you receive is not set in stone, it is often negotiable. You do not have to accept it. Bear in mind that most severance packages include the bare minimum in compensation and are often more beneficial for employers than workers. This could put you at a disadvantage, especially if your employer is trying to cheat you out of what you deserve. 

Once you sign or accept a severance package, you essentially give up your right to legal recourse if your separating employer violates your employment rights. It is a legally binding agreement that may or may not include provisions that can affect you during your transition to another job. Many jobs give transitioning workers a set time frame to decide about their offers. This is a scare tactic that they use to ensure they receive your answer in a timely manner and to pressure you into accepting what they offer without a second look or thought as to how it benefits or does not benefit you.