Can I negotiate with my company to increase the amount of the severance pay?

The severance agreement and severance pay being offered to you is the initial offer from the company.  All severance agreements can be negotiated to work on trying to increase the benefits being offered to you.  These benefits usually include the amount of compensation, stock grants or options, continued medical coverage or COBRA, payments of bonuses, payment of vacation days and numerous other items that may be included in your severance package.

There are two different avenues to utilize if you wish to negotiate your severance package.  First, you can contact your employer and make additional requests and changes to the severance agreement.  We recommend that you meet with an experienced severance lawyer to go over the agreement first.  Our severance lawyers will meet with you to review the severance agreement, provide you with a detailed analysis of the agreement and provide you with our written changes to the agreement.  We can “ghost write” a letter for you to send to your employer about the changes that need to be made to the severance agreement in order for you to sign.  You would then handle the negotiation on your own.  This approach can work for clients, however, it is not the strongest approach to try and increase the severance package.

Second, you can hire an experienced severance attorney to negotiate the severance package on your behalf.  Our severance lawyers will meet with you to discuss the agreement in detail and create a strategy to maximize the amount of the severance currently being offered.  We will send a detailed letter to your employer providing all of our changes and informing them of any specific claims that you may have against the company in violation of the various employment laws.  Our severance lawyers will typically receive a response from a lawyer working with your employer.  The advantage to this is that you have moved out of negotiating with a member of human resources and are dealing with an attorney that will understand the potential claims against the employer and the potential costs associated with litigation in the event that you were to pursue your claims against the company instead of accepting the severance package being offered.

The negotiation process can take some time and you will need to be patient.  The process can take one to two weeks or could last more than six months to try and obtain the proper severance package for you.  You may be able to fast track the process depending on the amount of the demand being made by you regarding the severance pay.  However, your employer may need to spend some time investigating your potential claims and may not be in a place to respond to the demands being made until after it has completed the investigation.

Please be careful in any negotiation regarding your severance so that you do not directly reject the offer so that it is off the table and the entire severance package is lost.  Although this only happens in the rarest of circumstances, it could happen and it is important that you speak with a severance lawyer to make sure that you do not lose the severance package currently being offered to you the employer.