If you have just lost your job and are wondering how to maximize your severance pay and other benefits, Steven Mitchell Sack, a Manhattan employment attorney and Long Island resident, offers 10 strategies to help in that endeavor.
Sack is the author of the newly reissued “Employee Rights Handbook: Effective legal strategies to protect your job from interview to pink slip.”
A note about severance. By law, companies don’t have to pay you severance. But they must, Sack said, if you have a written contract stating that the perk will be paid; oral promises are given regarding severance pay; the company handbook states that the employer will offer the benefit ; the employer offers to pay iseverance or other employees in similar positions have received it pay in the past.
In his own words, here is Sack’s list of strategies:
1. If you are fired, request an additional negotiating session to discuss your severance package.
2. Stall for time and try not to accept the company’s first offer.
3. Appeal to corporate decency and fair play; avoid threatening litigation at the initial meeting. For example, it is better to state your current situation and how being fired can put your life in financial ruin, rather than threatening to sue.
4. Recognize that the more things you ask for, the better your chances of receiving some of them like an extension of your benefits.
5. Confirm all arrangements in writing to document the final deal of severance and post-termination benefits. Do not accept the company’s promise that “everything will work out.”
6. Insist on receiving more money and other benefits before signing a release or waiver of age discrimination claims.
7. Do not rely on promises from the company that you will receive a favorable job reference. Rather, draft your own favorable letter of reference and get an officer or your supervisor to sign the letter before you make your final departure.
8. Do not be intimidated or forced into early retirement. Recognize that you may have rights, particularly if your early retirement causes you to lose large, expected financial benefits.
9. Be cautious when the employer asks you to sign a release because you may be waiving valuable rights and benefits in the process.
10. Finally, since the above 10 strategies are merely suggestions and are not intended to be legal advice per se, always seek competent legal advice where warranted.
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