Separation Pay

Q Are severance packages negotiable?
A A severance package is usually offered to an employee who is laid off or terminated. Depending on the company and the employee, it can consist of two weeks to one month of pay given for every year spent with the company. It might also include six to 12 months of outplacement service.

“The problem is that it can take 18 months or more for some professionals to find a job they want,” notes Wayne A. Newell, managing director at Management Alliance Group, an executive recruitment firm in Summit, New Jersey, Like salaries, severance packages are negotiable. Therefore, advises Newell, “if you’re not satisfied, sign nothing until you’re sure it’s the best package possible.”

That may mean seeking the advice of a labor attorney or mediator, particularly for older workers. “If you are 55 and a minority, it will be even more difficult to find a job,” says Newell. “The minimum you should ask for is one year of severance pay, especially if you’re not in one of the more marketable areas such as accounting or information systems.”

Other benefits that may be negotiable are health and group life insurance, extended outplacement services and continuing education reimbursement. If you have been relocated within the past six months, you may also request return moving expenses.

Adds Newell, “The length of time it takes to find a job varies. That means you must know the market and your worth in order to get the best package.”
PHOTO (COLOR): W.A. Newell

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