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Negotiating a severance package in Rhode Island

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2023 | Severance Agreements

Leaving a job usually comes with mixed feelings, even when the exit is amicable. Residents of Rhode Island who are being laid off or fired can be entitled to a severance package from their place of employment.

What some workers may not realize is that severance agreements are often negotiable. If you have lost your job, you can follow the below steps for negotiation.

What is a severance package?

Severance packages are benefit bundles companies offer to employees who are being fired or laid off. The payoff amount varies by employer and position from company to company. On average, workers are offered one month’s salary for every year of employment. Other benefits like health and life insurance can also be part of the package. Not all businesses offer severance pay, so it’s a good idea to find out about company policy.

Receiving severance pay won’t disqualify workers from applying for unemployment in Rhode Island. However, the unemployment benefit payments will be delayed until after the severance agreement expires. If the employee severance package provides salary for three months, unemployment benefit payments won’t begin until the fourth month.

Reasons for disqualification

Usually, nether benefit option is available to workers who are fired, except under specific circumstances, like:

  • Poor fit for position
  • Lacking required skills for position
  • Company merger or new ownership resulting in staff reductions

When faced with involuntary unemployment, don’t sign a severance agreement right away. It might be possible to negotiate a better deal.

How to negotiate a better severance agreement

The first step toward a successful negotiation is to stay calm. No matter how contentious or unexpected the departure, heated words or emotion won’t help the situation. Take the time to fully read and absorb the terms.

Try to negotiate terms, such as non-compete clauses, that will negatively impact your ability to find a new job. If it’s impossible to do away with this term due to the nature of the work, such as technical or research-oriented occupations that are highly competitive, try for a shorter term.

Don’t be greedy. Asking for a slight increase allows the company to negotiate more. But making unreasonable demands could stifle any willingness to compromise.

Determine if there is any vacation or other pay accumulated. Unclaimed paid time off can be added to the severance amount. In cases where the severance is unwarranted or may be due to issues like discrimination, consult with an employment attorney before signing anything.

Keep in mind that not all severance agreements are negotiable. However, it never hurts to try for a better deal.