What's a decent severance package?

I just got laid off. A friend says I got a bullshit severance package.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter - not like I can negotiate something else - but I wonder how what I got compares to what others here have seen.

They tell me they’ll be sending a severance check worth one week’s pay for each year of employment. Plus they’re giving me a “nice reference letter” and paying one extra month of health benefits.

That’s it, not counting the stuff they’re legally required to provide (compensation for unclaimed PTO, COBRA membership, 401K rollover, etc.)

I am a writing professional in a high-tech industry. Although I have never supervised anyone, I believe they told me I was hired as a management-level employee.

So, what’s your experience with severance packages? Is this pretty standard or on the light side?

2 weeks for every year you have been with the company is standard. Last time I was laid off, that’s why I got, plus two months paid health benefits and of course all unused vacation time/PTO.

Usually the deal is you sit with HR and your boss and they go over your termination letter. Basically it’s an agreement not to sue or badmouth the company in exchange for your severance.

I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to tell them that you think that it is unfair and ask for more, but ultimately unless you threaten them with some sort of descrimination lawsuit or something, I’m not sure what leverage you have. Then again, sometimes just letting them know you think they are screwing you makes them rethink their position. Ultimately they just want you to go away without any trouble.

I got six months’ salary, plus six months of health/dental benefits & life insurance. I thought it was pretty decent, especially since I started a new job six weeks later.

Thanks, Satan! I’m eternally grateful.

If two weeks per year is standard, then I guess I got screwed. Not all that surprising.

Is Washington an “at-will” state? Here in NJ unless you are protected by a union contract, you can be let go for any reason (other than those protected by civil rights laws), or no reason at all, at any time, and there is no obligation to give anyone a red cent in severance. Many companies simply have a blanket policy that applies to every employee, based on number of years of service, title, etc. for any layoff.

If you think there is any possibility that it could look like you were unfairly selected, talk to a lawyer.

When I was laid off a few years back, my lawyer pointed out that I was the only woman, and the oldest person in the group, and that I’d had nothing but top reviews during almost 10 years of employment. Without threats, he then suggested that a particular portion of the offer was a little low. It was substantially increased.

I’ve directly observed 6 layoffs in my career (victim twice), and I’ve never seen a company give more than 4 weeks pay, regardless of length of service. All high tech engineering & software companies.

Obviously all this depends on your company or industry. I’ve seen some people get some pretty significant packages when they left a company they had been at for a long time.

One of my friends was given a severace package that included a year’s pay. Basically he was given a choice, you can take the package now or you can work for x months and then take some larger package. Well “x” kept getting extended untilk eventually the company was acquired by a new company. The new company basically told them “we aren’t doing layoffs anymore”. So while he gets to keep his job, he feels kind of screwed because he was really looking forward to getting a huge severance package and doing nothing for awhile.

It completely depends on the industry and company, geographic location, hourly or salaried, union or non-union, etc., etc.

Two weeks’ pay is a bare minimum. A week for every year of service is middle-of-the-road, and far from a “bullshit severance package.” In many locations employers are required to continue to provide health insurance through the calendar month following the termination, or something like that, so your month of health insurance isn’t out of the ordinary and they might be required to do it by law.

Two weeks’ pay for each year sounds very generous to me. The best packages I’ve ever heard of were things like early retirement buyouts at big companies, which were this plus some cash amount on top of it.

The best deal I ever got personally was a layoff notice that came with a 25% retention bonus if I promised not to leave before the layoff date.

Who did he work for, Monty Hall? :wink:

During the dot com bust, the lesson learned was take the package now because the company won’t have any money left later to pay the loyal people who stay.

When I got laid off at a big pharmaceutical a couple years ago I got 13 weeks pay plus 3 weeks for every year worked for a total of 28 weeks’ pay. I think the max was 140 weeks (or was it 104?). Plus before that went into effect I got full salary and benefits for 3 months without having to come in to the office, and I got my family health insurance corporate rate for a year, in addition to some placement and education benefits. It was pretty sweet but when the check came it was severely depleted by taxes, almost by half.

2 layoffs in the last 3 years and I got the same package. 2 weeks plus a week for each year of service. Actually, the last company kept me on the payroll for 2 weeks so it was actually 4 weeks plus a week for each year.

Here in England the statutory maximum is roughly:

  • about 1 week for each year of employment, depending on your age
  • a maximum of 20 years for the calculation
  • a maximum of £330 per week for the calculation

See here for an online calculator.

Can I tell a great story? KTHX.

An administrative assistant at my previous employer got laid off. By all accounts she was excellent and had given many years of dedicated service. They gave her the maximum severance, which was 6 months’ pay based on that seniority. Good enough.

She got another job without much trouble, but within a very short time someone in another dept. was looking for an AA, asked her previous boss, and hired her on his recommendation. However, there was nothing in the separation agreement or in company policy limiting severance pay if you are hired anyplace. So – she was getting her regular paycheck, PLUS the severance pay paycheck.

Wait - it gets better. Within another month or two the layoff demon came to her new department, and she got laid off again. Here comes the good part. Company policy was that if you are rehired within 3 months of being laid off, you retrain seniority credit for all previous time employed. So, she gets the full 6-month severance pay AGAIN! After the second layoff, for several months she is receiving double pay for NOT working.

I love that story. It is not an urban legend; I knew the person myself. Usually that sort of parachute only goes to big shots, but it went to an ordinary hard-working woman.

And the company changed the policy after that so that no one else would be so lucky.

My husband got laid off last week with nothing, as in they told him to go home in the middle of the day and didn’t even pay his whole day, much less for the week. He did not even get his vacation pay. Just “bye.” That seems pretty standard if you work non-union in Michigan. But just another way salaried people are treated differently than skilled (non-union) trades. I don’t know why the big difference.

Thankfully, he was already planning on leaving that place, and is already working somewhere else. We are lucky, many people we know are let go with no severance, no insurance, and no notice, and then have to go compete with 300 other people for that one job opening.

This is illegal in Michigan, regardless of union or non-union status. Your hubby may want to make his ex employer aware of that.

This is pretty much what my company does.

They claimed that, even though they let their employees take their vacation time at any point during the calendar year, they technically accrued it as the year went on as a percentage of hours already worked. Therefore even though his paycheck stubs showed that he had vacation time available to him, he had not really accrued it yet and so would not be paid for it.

I am sure it is legal how they are doing it, it just really really sucks in the way they are going about it. Who tells someone they are laid off in the middle of the day and does not even pay them for the whole day? I am not sure why they even had him work at all this year, now next year tax season we have to wait for a W-2 from them that will have 3.5 days on it, how stupid. They just did a big round of layoffs in December, it would have been better if they had just included him with that, although he thinks it is because they wanted him to finish a project he was working on first (including getting called in after hours just last Monday!)

But whatever…honestly, good riddance to that company. It is kind of ironic that we had just agreed 2 days before that he was well and truly going to quit, probably within the month.

My wife got laid off recently from a major tech company. She got kept on the payroll for 2 months, and got an additional 2 months severance. She only worked there for a year.

Not to name names, /cough/ AT&T /cough/

but I got laid off after 13 years and got…Nothing! Some AT&T jobs are union, mine was not.

Only been laid off once, when my firm was aquired. I got two weeks on top of vacation.