Employees with proposed severance agreements often wonder if they can review and negotiate the agreement themselves. Severance agreements are typically written to protect the company. Severance agreements are legal contracts, typically drafted by the company’s lawyer. The terms can affect you for months or years after you’ve left the company. It is important to have your own lawyer on board to advise you on the following:
Nine Things to Know about Severance Agreements
1. Are there any potential benefits you are leaving on the table?
2. Should you consider any of these requests to be deal-breakers?
3. Have you thought about how to protect your professional reputation going forward?
4. Is it possible to increase the severance pay or other benefits you are being offered?
5. Should the language in the agreement be revised to make it more mutual? And if so, what provisions are the most important?
6. How will this agreement affect your unemployment benefits?
7. Is this really “boilerplate” or is the company going too far?
8. Will signing the agreement limit your job opportunities in the future?
9. How will this agreement affect your health insurance coverage and can that be changed?
This is Just Standard Language in Severance Agreements, Right?
In my experience, many employees think the wording in severance agreements is just boilerplate or the usual legal jargon. On the contrary, most agreements have been carefully crafted to protect the company. Once in a while an employee will be alarmed by a provision that is actually standard and typical in severance agreements and will think it is a deal-breaker. If you don’t see these agreements every day like an experienced employment lawyer, how could you possibly know the difference?
Many employees benefit from considering how their separation might be re-structured in order to benefit them. This is particularly true for employees who are still with the company at the time they receive the proposed agreement. There are various strategies that we’ve found helpful for individuals who are still employed and are presented with an agreement.
It is important to know what rights you are giving up by signing. Some employees may be waiving potential legal claims. Virtually all severance agreements include a release of legal claims. Before signing an agreement, know what rights you are waiving and know how the wording should be modified to protect you.
Call us about your Severance Agreement, We’re Friendly!
If you have a severance agreement, please call us. We’re friendly. Please call us at 617-936-1580 or email at [email protected]. Maura Greene is a Boston lawyer with over 28 years of experience. She was named a Super Lawyer in employment in 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013. In 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013 the Boston Globe named her as a top-rated attorney. We are located at Six Beacon Street, Suite 205, Boston, MA 02108 and look forward to speaking with you!