Losing your job can be extremely worrisome and stressful, especially if you were not expecting to be laid off. The prospect of facing unemployment without enough severance pay as a transitional safety net should not be something you should fear. Sometimes employers in Riverside and throughout California will deny an employee a severance package that they deserves.
Whether you have been denied a severance package or you would like to negotiate the amount of compensation in the severance package, it is crucial that you contact a Riverside employment law attorney. HKM Employment Attorneys have extensive experience successfully negotiating Severance packages for our clients. We can also help you understand whether it is advisable for you to sign a severance agreement or whether you should pursue a more valuable legal claim against your employer.
What is a Severance Package?
Generally, a standard severance package is a contract that includes a dollar amount an employer will give a terminated employee for the services and time the employee gave to the company. Employers have begun offering severance packages to employees other than executives to ensure they sign a non-disclosure agreement or a promissory agreement not to sue the company or take any legal action against the company. Companies engage in a cost-benefit analysis and decide it is more cost-effective to pay a smaller Severance amount than for an expensive legal claim brought by a former employee.
Not every employee is entitled to severance pay unless the employer promises a severance package verbally or in writing through an employment contract. Regardless of the circumstances of the termination of employment, it is worth taking the time to speak to an employment attorney. Do not accept the amount of compensation stated in the severance agreement at face value. An attorney can help you negotiate a higher severance payment amount to cover the costs of searching for new employment.
Is My Employer Required to Provide Severance Pay?
Severance pay is considered a voluntary benefit, and California law does not require employees to provide severance pay when they lay off an employee. However, suppose your employer has promised you severance pay in a policy handbook or employment contract. In that case, your employer must adhere to the handbook’s contract terms or policies. When an employment contract is legally valid, California courts will enforce the terms of the contract, including those with severance packages.
It is a good idea to discuss your case with an attorney before you sign an employment contract to see about the potential for negotiating the severance page to be included. If your contract did include severance pay and your employer is denying you those benefits, you should contact an employment attorney to help you bring a claim in a California court.
How Much Severance Should an Employer Provide?
Employers are required to provide severance payments, and they can apply any formula they choose or no formula at all. Employers do not need to provide severance according to the formulas used in the past. However, employers cannot decide whether to award severance or the amount of severance they are offering for discriminatory and unlawful reasons. For example, an employer can’t deny a severance agreement to certain employees based on their gender, race, national origin, or another protected status.
Setting the amount of severance pay depends on how much compensation it will take to persuade a person to sign the agreement and the value the employer places on getting it signed. The amount depends on the value of the claim the individual could pursue against the employer, the risk that they would pursue a claim, and the importance the employer places on securing additional protections through a severance agreement. The stronger the individual’s claim and the greater the risk of employment litigation, the greater the value of the severance agreement.
Unfortunately, even when employees have valid claims for compensation against their employers, the employer May offer them a severance amount that is far too low, hoping they will sign the agreement and move on. Hiring an attorney can help you ensure you receive a fair amount of compensation, especially if you have a valid legal claim against your employer.
Do I Have to Sign a Severance Agreement?
You are not required to sign a severance agreement on the condition of receiving severance. Sometimes employers offer severance without requiring the employee even to sign an agreement because they want to keep it simple or they do not fully understand the value of the severance agreement. In most cases, employers will require you to sign an agreement. For an employer hoping to avoid a lawsuit with a terminated employee by offering payment, execution of an enforcement agreement is essential. However, not all severance agreements are enforceable, so discussing the agreement with an attorney is wise.
Negotiating the Terms of Your Severance Agreement
Sometimes employees do not know they can negotiate a severance agreement. It is important to remember that California has no law about severance agreements. There is no standard severance package that California employees are entitled to. Employees are not entitled to statutory redundancy payments when laid off, and few companies will offer robust severance plans for their employees. Consequently, for most employees, the amount of compensation you get is what you can negotiate.
California severance agreements will have a few crucial terms, including the amount of compensation, the timing of severance payments, and the release of legal claims by the employee. Most of the other provisions are subject to negotiation. Working with an attorney and having a clear strategy going into the discussions will increase the likelihood that you will be able to negotiate a more favorable agreement.
Discuss Your Pay With a Riverside Severance Agreement Attorney
If you have been offered a severance agreement, wait to sign it until you discuss the terms with a skilled employment attorney. You may have a valid claim against your employer worth more than the compensation in the severance agreement. Signing the agreement will waive your right to pursue a legal claim against your employer. Contact HKM Employment Attorneys to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about how we can fight for your rights.