Negotiating your Severance Package.
You have just received your pink slip. “Your services are no longer required” keeps replaying in your head. Your immediate reaction may be shock. That may turn to anger, denial and grief and all you keep thinking is ‘what’s next’. In this era of scant employment opportunities, losing your job is devastating. You have to sign a letter and documents from your now former employer. And it is important for you to take a good hard look at them. The truth is, how well you do at negotiating your severance package determines how strong of a bridge you have to navigate the choppy waters ahead. Not only will this give you purpose, it is also a very constructive way to begin your healing journey.
Negotiating Under Pressure.
You have every right to seek legal advice before signing the documents from your employer. Do not let the deadlines intimidate you or drive you into making poor decisions by leaving money behind. Make sure you control the agenda, here. Very few employers will refuse to negotiate beyond the deadline. It is not legally binding, especially if you have not received sufficient notice to seek legal advice.
Calculation of Notice or Pay in Lieu.
Canadian Employment Law requires your employer to offer you reasonable notice when they let you go. Many employers may not want you lingering around for too long after they inform you of this decision. Some prefer a “clean cut”. Your employer may offer you pay in lieu of reasonable notice and this is perfectly legal.
However, you should pay close attention to what your employer has determined this “reasonable notice” to be. The Employment Standards Act lays out the minimum but you will be wise to consult an employment lawyer about this. They can review your offer to determine if it is fair for your situation. It should sufficiently cover you for the amount of time it will reasonably take you to find another job.
If you are 55 years old and had spent the last 25 years with the same employer in an industry that is now economically stressed, you will definitely need more time to land an equivalent job. And in this case, your severance package should be far superior to the minimum amount set out by law.
This severance package should reflect your unique circumstances and a trained employment lawyer can make these calculations to ensure you receive your maximum entitlements.
Don’t Overlook the Extras.
Your severance package should include the value of medical benefits and bonuses if they were part of your employment contract.
Constructive dismissal, discrimination or unfair treatment during your termination can also qualify you for extra compensation.
And every good lawyer will always fight hard to include the “intangibles”, ensuring you receive funds for personalized career coaching. You will find this invaluable during your job hunt. A career coach is professionally trained to be a sounding board when you brush up your resume and practice your interview skills. They help you explore avenues for learning new skills and they find opportunities to take your skills set to new and emerging industries. Your coach will guide you step by step to transition into a new business or consulting role, should you choose this. And most of all, they bring solid experience to your side as you negotiate your employment contract and close the deal on the new job.
So don’t linger too long after a layoff to lick your wounds. A job loss can be an opportunity to begin something fresh. And it all begins with how well you do at negotiating your severance package.