What is the process to negotiate an ‘at-will’ severance package?

I was provided from my employer an ‘at-will’ Severance Agreement due to lack of work, and they’re offering a lump sump amount which is subject to appropriate witholdings in the state of NE. The agreement must be signed and returned within the next week, but I would like to negotiate for a higher severance amount, maybe double, to help cover for the COBRA medical, dental, and vision coverage for my family. Do I just cross out the amount of the severance and type in a different amount, or do I need to contact the HR manager that provided this Severance Agreement?

Asked on December 29, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Nebraska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You need to speak to them and actually "negotiate" it: you can't just write in different terms or amounts that you'd like. Before doing this:
1) Bear in mind that if you negotiate, counteroffer, etc. the package, that is a rejection of their offer. They don't have to make it to you again or let you accept it: they could pull it off the table entirely and give you nothing (see below).
2) If you are an at-will employee, you have NO right to any severance: the law does not require it. They could terminate you without providing any whatsoever. So you do not have any leverage to get more: whatever they offer is purely voluntary on their part.


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