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How to Negotiate a Termination Settlement Offer

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When your employer drops the bomb that you're going to be terminated, she might ask you to negotiate terms of the termination right away. If you've done something wrong that warrants you being fired, that might include only a non-discrimination waiver. If, on the other hand, you're being terminated because the company is downsizing, your position is now obsolete or for some other reason that's not your fault, you might have some room to negotiate a severance package. Sometimes that's going to warrant getting help from an attorney, but in any case, try to get as much from the deal as you can.

Take Your Time

First and foremost, don't think you need to negotiate your agreement right away. Ask for at least a few days, if not more, to look over any terms your employer gives you. Also review your employment contract or consult your union representative to find out whether there are any established terms regarding termination, such as a severance package, for example. In any case, there's no need to rush -- especially if you're over 40. According to laws outlined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, workers over age 40 are allowed 21 days to review any waivers or terms the employer lays out.

Terms You Might See

The terms you're likely to see from your employer typically include a waiver that states you won't sue the employer for discrimination. If you feel you have been discriminated against for your age, gender, religion, or something else, get help from a lawyer or contact the EEOC. Same goes if the terms include a non-compete agreement. In some businesses, you might also be asked to agree not to work for any competing business for a certain length of time. That second part can be a big sticking point, and it's definitely advisable to get help from your attorney to navigate those waters, suggests employment attorney Wendy Lazar in Forbes.

Severance Pay

If your employment contract provides no guidance, you'll need to come up with an amount of severance pay you can live with -- and it should be pretty hefty if you're being asked to sign a non-compete clause. There are no laws on the amount of severance you should get, but it's typically based on how long you've worked at the company. On its website, Tennessee-based human resources compliance firm Business and Legal Resources provides the example of employers giving one week's pay for every year employees worked with the company. Since this is a negotiation process and the employer might issue a counter-offer, you could try for two weeks' pay per year, allowing for some wiggle room.

Benefits Byond Pay

Also consider other things you'll need when you're no longer employed. Of course, health insurance is a big one. Consider asking your employer to pay your COBRA insurance or to extend your benefits for a few months after you're gone. You might also ask your employer to pay for an "outplacement consultant" who can help you find a new job, suggests Lindsay Olson of U.S. News & World Report. Another idea: Ask for letters of recommendation. In the best-case scenario, your employer will give you money and additional benefits. If not though, decide which thing you'll be willing to remove to create a sense of compromise in the negotiation. Lay out your terms in writing, and then meet with your boss to discuss the terms. Stay calm, and be willing to compromise to see the best outcome possible.


Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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