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Employers offer severance packages to employees they are terminating in return for the employees’ agreement not to sue the employer for claims related to their employment.

They may also contain other restrictions the employee will have to abide by in return.

Generally, employees do this in return for financial compensation. It is important that you have a severance lawyer review your package before you sign off on it. 

Are you wondering, can you negotiate a severance agreement on your own? We have some guidance about severance packages for you today.

What Is the California Employment Severance Package Law?

Terminated California employees are entitled to pay for their hours worked and hours within the required notice period.

However, not every employee is entitled to severance pay. There is nothing in California law that requires employers to offer it.

However, if they do offer a severance agreement, it must comply with the Fair Employment and Housing Act

In 2021, the California governor signed the Silenced No More Act into law. It created new restrictions on what employers could request in severance agreements.

It is not retroactive, which means it does not apply to any severance packages before the Act became law.

Here are some of the new updates:

  • Employees must have at least five days to consider a severance agreement.
  • Employers must inform the employee that they can consult an attorney for advice about the agreement.
  • Settlement agreements may not restrict employees’ rights to disclose factual information relating to all claims of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.
  • Employers may not restrict employees from disclosing information about unlawful workplace acts unless it is part of a settlement agreement resolving a dispute and the employee had an opportunity to retain an attorney.

Employers’ severance agreements may still prohibit disclosing trade secrets and confidential information and the amount of severance paid.

What Rights Could You Give Up in a Typical Executive Severance Package?

Some common rights that employers commonly attempt to restrict in severance agreements include the rights to:

  • Sue your employer for wrongful termination;
  • Make negative comments about your employer;
  • Talk about your termination; 
  • Work in specific jobs and workplaces, or hire away other employees; and
  • Discuss the terms of your termination agreement.

The prohibitions on speaking about your employer negatively or about your termination or agreement will also apply to social media.

You must read over the terms of your severance agreement carefully before you sign anything.

You should retain an employment and labor law attorney to review the agreement and ensure that your employer does not take advantage of you.

How to Negotiate a Severance Agreement

Are severance packages negotiable? Well, pretty much any clause of your severance package is negotiable, and your employer likely expects you to negotiate.

A severance attorney can help you negotiate a severance package to get you the best deal. 

For this reason, they will probably offer less money upfront than they are actually willing to pay. Your employer is not trying to be your friend by offering you a severance package.

They want to pay you as little as possible in return for signing away your rights. You should receive the compensation you deserve.

You should also make sure your employer fully reimburses you for any outstanding expenses related to your employment.

This includes compensation for unused paid time off, such as vacation. In some cases, employees might be able to get compensation for an unused sick time as well. 

Your severance must explain what happens to your benefits after termination.

Everything is negotiable, including increased health care coverage and, in some cases, job placement assistance.

But remember, if you want to effectively negotiate a severance package, a law firm focused on employment law can lend a crucial hand in making sure you hit the right points.

Contact Farzam Law Firm

The attorneys of Farzam Law Firm have experienced employment lawyers in California.

We know how upsetting it can be when someone is terminated from their employment, whether they knew it was coming or not.

We can help ensure that your employer does not take advantage of you during the termination process.

We can review your severance package, ensure that your employer is not violating your rights, and possibly help you negotiate for better compensation and benefits.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Author Photo

Joseph Farzam

Mr. Farzam attended Santa Monica high school and worked at McDonald’s and local coffee shops to support himself. Although he worked 2 or 3 jobs, he valued education greatly and earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Northridge in biology, and attended the prestigious Pepperdine University School of Law. He graduated with high marks and passed the California bar exam on the first try. Mr. Farzam has received the coveted titles of Super Lawyer, Los Angeles Magazine’s Top Lawyers, and has received The Litigator Awards.  He is a proud member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA) and California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA).

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