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


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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.