How to Negotiate a severance package

Don't sign any termination papers until you're sure you've made the best deal you can.

You Will Need
* Time to review your options
* A meeting with the boss
* Valid reasons for additional perks
* Legal advice (optional)

Step 1
Understand that, legally, your company doesn't have give you severance pay unless you have a contract stating otherwise.

Step 2
Don't sign anything immediately, even if it means holding up your final check. Say that you'll review the package and get back to them.

Per federal anti-age discrimination laws, workers age 40 and older have 21 days to review their severance package, 45 days if they were part of a massive layoff, and seven days to change their mind after signing a waiver.

Step 3
Ask to speak to someone at the company who is in a position to sweeten the deal Human Resources is offering, whether that is your immediate boss or the CEO.

Step 4
If you're asked to leave immediately, suggest that you stay on long enough to complete current projects. Emphasize that this is in the best interest of the company.

Step 5
If you're offered severance, provide a compelling argument as to why you deserve more than the company's standard payout, like if you were hired away from another firm, or you relocated to take the job.

Step 6
Ask the company to keep paying your health benefits for a few months. This concession may be worth more to you than cash if you or someone in your family has large medical bills.

In many cases, terminated employees are kept on the company health plan until the end of the month, so ask for coverage beyond that.

Step 7
If you are just shy of receiving a year-end bonus or being fully vested in stock options, ask the company to fast-track those perks. If there's a deadline for exercising stock options, request that they extend it.

Step 8
Consider consulting an employment attorney before signing off on any package.

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