If you are laid off and receive severance, must you return if you are re-hired?

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If you are laid off and receive severance, must you return if you are re-hired?

My husband was laid off 2 weeks ago. His company gave him a severance package when he left the company. My husband and his company signed an agreement. Now (2 weeks later), they offered him a job but in a different department. His company sent an offer letter to him but didn’t mention anything about the severance.

Asked on April 19, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Severance is as per an agreement (even if there's no written agreement, it's still as per an agreement--simply an oral or verbal one). If the terms  of the agreement had been that your husband would return severance if rehired, he'd have to return it. Or if they offered him a job only on the previso or condition he returned severance and he agreed to it, again, he'd have to return it. But if the severance agreement never required its return, and the job offer did not have that string attached at the time your husband accepted it, then they cannot require him to give back the severance--one party cannot add additional terms or conditions to an agreement after the fact. Now, if the company asks for the money back, if there had been no previous agreement, it may be a good idea to return it--but that's for you to decide, weighing factors such as the amount of money and the value of good relations with his employer.


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