A Guide on How to Ask for a Severance Package

Employment transitions are often accompanied by feelings of uncertainty and apprehension. Whether it’s due to company restructuring, layoffs, or your personal decision, parting ways with your employer is never easy. Amidst these challenges, one avenue you can explore to cushion the blow of job loss is getting a severance package from your employer.

Severance packages include a wide range of benefits – from monetary compensation to extended health insurance coverage – and can reduce the financial strain caused by your job loss. At the same time, initiating conversations about severance is not easy, as it requires a strategic approach coupled with clear communication.

In this article, we explain how you can ask for a severance package from your employer and the key factors you should consider during severance negotiations.

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How to Initiate a Discussion on Severance Package

Initiating a discussion on severance benefits with your employer requires careful planning on your part. Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can effectively initiate this discussion.

Prepare: Before approaching your employer, thoroughly research your company’s policies and practices regarding severance packages. Understand what is typically included in such packages and whether there are any precedents for similar situations within the company. Additionally, assess your own contributions to the company, any relevant employment contracts, and the circumstances surrounding your potential departure.

Choose the Right Time: Timing is crucial when initiating a conversation about severance. Ideally, select a time when both you and your employer can have a private and uninterrupted discussion. Avoid busy periods or moments of high stress for your employer, as this might not be conducive to a productive conversation.

Frame the Conversation Professionally: Start the conversation on a positive note by expressing gratitude for the opportunities you have had with the company and the experiences you have gained. Clearly state your intention to discuss the terms of your departure and emphasize your commitment to ensuring a smooth transition for both parties.

Be Direct but Tactful: Clearly articulate your reasons for initiating the discussion about a severance package. Whether it’s due to a layoff, impending company restructuring, or personal reasons, be transparent about your motivations without placing blame or becoming confrontational. Frame your request for a severance package as a fair and reasonable consideration given the circumstances.

Highlight Your Value: Remind your employer of your contributions to the company and the skills and expertise you bring to the table. Emphasize how a fair severance package would acknowledge your dedication and help you navigate the transition period more effectively.

Remain Professional and Open to Negotiation: Throughout the conversation, maintain a professional demeanor and remain open to constructive dialogue. Be prepared for the possibility of negotiation and be flexible in finding mutually acceptable terms. Remember that the goal is to reach a fair and amicable agreement that benefits both parties.

Key Legal Considerations in Severance Agreements You Should Be Aware Of

Release of Claims

Severance agreements typically include a release of claims, by signing which you agree not to bring any legal claims against your employer related to your employment and termination. It can significantly limit your ability to seek legal recourse for potential grievances. So, it is essential to understand the scope of the release and make sure you are not waiving any of your legal rights unintentionally.

Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Clauses

These clauses require you to keep certain information about your employer and their business confidential. This can include trade secrets, proprietary information, and certain information about the company’s products and services. It’s vital to review these clauses carefully and make sure there is no ambiguity in the language so that you know exactly what you are not allowed to disclose.


This clause prohibits you from making negative or derogatory comments about your former employer, their company, their products and services, or their employees. This typically includes statements made in public, on social media, to prospective employers, and to third parties who might be associated with your employer.

The language used in non-disparagement clauses is often broad and subjective, leaving room for interpretation as to what constitutes disparaging behavior. Depending on the scope of the clause, even factual statements that reflect negatively on your employer might be considered disparaging.


This clause restricts you from engaging in competitive activities – including working for your employer’s competitors within a specific time frame and a specific geographic area. It can severely limit your ability to pursue employment opportunities in certain industries and certain geographic regions.

Importance of Legal Guidance in Severance Package Negotiations

Protecting Your Rights and Interests

Severance agreements often contain complex legal language and provisions that might be difficult for you to understand. Moreover, your severance agreement might include provisions that can restrict your future employment prospects by prohibiting you from working for certain companies and engaging in certain competitive activities. Signing the agreement without fully understanding the terms and conditions can severely affect your legal rights as an employee and harm your professional interests.

A robust and dependable employment lawyer can identify the provisions that might infringe upon your rights and negotiate with your employer to modify them to protect your rights and interests.

Securing the Benefits You Deserve

Can you ask for a severance package when you do not know your actual worth? The short answer is – no. When you do not know what you deserve, you are unlikely to get it. Moreover, in many cases, even employees who know what they deserve are often hesitant to ask their employer for it. A lawyer who is experienced in negotiating severance agreements can take your contributions to the company into account, determine whether you have any claims against your employer, identify areas where concessions might be possible, and maximize your benefits.

How Our California Employment Attorneys Can Help You with Severance Agreement Negotiations

Protecting Legal Rights

We can review the provisions of your severance agreement to ensure that they comply with all the applicable laws and regulations. We can identify any provisions that can impact your legal rights, negotiate with your employer to get them modified, and make sure all the terms and conditions are fair and in your best interest.

If your severance agreement includes a release of claims clause, we can assess whether you’re waiving any important rights or potential claims against your employer. We can advise you on whether the release is fair and whether you are receiving adequate consideration in exchange.

Safeguarding Future Employment Prospects

We can help negotiate terms that protect your ability to seek future employment opportunities without unnecessary restrictions. For example, we can review and negotiate non-compete clauses to ensure that they are reasonable in scope and duration and do not unduly limit your career prospects.

If your severance agreement includes non-disparagement or confidentiality clauses, we can ensure that they are drafted in a way that allows you to communicate truthfully and transparently about your employment experiences without fear of reprisal.

Negotiating Better Terms

We can strategically negotiate with your employer to secure more favorable terms in the severance agreement. From increased severance pay to extended health insurance benefits, we can negotiate for a comprehensive severance package that includes all the benefits you deserve.

We can also guide potential counteroffers and strategies for maximizing the value of the severance package. We can leverage our knowledge of employment law and industry standards to negotiate terms that align with your needs and priorities.

Providing Legal Advice and Counsel

Throughout the severance negotiation process, we can provide you with legal advice tailored to your specific situation. We can answer your questions, address your concerns, provide clarity on complex legal issues, and help you make informed decisions about the terms of the severance agreement.

If disputes arise during the negotiation process or if there are disagreements about the interpretation of certain terms, we can provide legal guidance and representation to help resolve the issues efficiently and effectively.

Severance Benefits Our California Employment Attorneys Can Negotiate on Your Behalf

La indemnización por despido

The amount of severance pay offered in a severance package is often negotiable. We can take your length of service, your salary package, your contributions to the company, your performance reviews, the circumstances of your termination, and several other factors into account and negotiate for a higher severance package.

We can also negotiate the form of severance pay – whether it will be provided as a one-time lump sum severance payment or paid out in installments over a time period. We can determine which option might be more advantageous for your financial needs and tax considerations and negotiate for the same.

Healthcare Benefits

We can negotiate for the continuation of healthcare benefits including health insurance, dental insurance, and vision insurance. Extended healthcare coverage can provide you with a sense of security during periods of employment transition.

Stock Options and Equity

If you hold stock options, restricted stock units, or other equity based compensation, we can negotiate the treatment of these assets in the severance package. This might include accelerating vesting schedules, extending exercise periods, or ensuring that unvested equity awards are not forfeited upon termination.

Outplacement Services

Having access to outplacement services can make it easier for you to find and transition into new employment opportunities. We can negotiate for a wide range of outplacement services including career counseling, resume writing assistance, job search support, networking opportunities, and more.

How Our California Employment Attorneys Can Make Sure the Terms of Your Severance Agreement Are Enforced Fairly

There are many steps we can take to make sure your employer abides by the terms of your severance agreement. These include:

Reviewing the Severance Agreement

We can review the terms of the severance agreement to make sure they are clear, enforceable, and legally binding. We can make sure that the agreement accurately reflects the negotiated terms and adequately protects your rights and interests.

Documentation and Communication

We can assist you in documenting all aspects of the severance agreement – including the agreed-upon terms, payment schedule, and any other relevant details. We can make sure that the agreement is properly executed and communicated to your employer in accordance with the agreed-upon terms.

Enforcement of Terms

If your employer fails to comply with the terms of the severance agreement, we can take steps to enforce the agreement and make sure you receive the benefits you are entitled to. This might involve sending a formal demand letter to your employer outlining the breach of contract and requesting compliance with the agreed-upon terms.

Negotiation and Resolution

In some cases, we can resolve the dispute through negotiation with your employer. We can clarify misunderstandings, address discrepancies, or negotiate alternative solutions to resolve the breach of contract amicably.

Legal Action

If negotiation efforts are unsuccessful or if the breach of contract is significant, we can pursue legal action against your employer. This might involve filing a lawsuit for breach of contract in civil court and seeking damages for any financial losses you incurred as a result of the breach.

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Talk to Our California Severance Agreement Lawyers Today!

En Ley de Hershey, we know that asking the employer for severance benefits can be a challenge for any employee. We have years of experience in drafting, reviewing, and negotiating severance agreements for employees from diverse backgrounds and industries. We can determine whether you have any claims against your employer and whether you are getting adequate compensation and other benefits in exchange.

The financial components aside, severance agreements contain several clauses that can impact your future employment prospects as well. We can identify these clauses, determine whether they are fair and reasonable in their scope, and make sure your professional interests are not harmed in any way.

Call us today at 310-929-2190 or use our formulario de contacto en línea to schedule a free consultation with one of our seasoned California severance agreement lawyers.