Drafting and negotiating a severance agreement is a very complex process. If you are separating from your employer, it is generally in your best interest to have any severance agreements reviewed by an employment law attorney. Often, these documents contain a general release in favor of the employer. So, by signing the agreement, you may actually be waiving your right to bring a claim.
Earlier this month, an Ocean City, Maryland, city manager came to an agreement with the city’s town council about his severance. The man had been the city manager since 1990, and prior to that he was city engineer for 10 years.
The 63-year-old man resigned about one year before he was planning to retire, following a 4-3 council vote asking him to step down.
The severance agreement allows for him to collect a full salary and benefits through March 2012, until his pension benefits kick in. He will also be compensated for 397 vacation hours, and 21 personal and holiday hours that he accrued but not used.
The man said he was happy with the way things worked out, but noted that because of the way the contract was written, the town could have paid up to five times what he ended up agreeing upon. He said he chose to make an economical choice.
Negotiating a severance agreement involves addressing several factors that go beyond the bottom line. The employee needs to protect his or her interests as well as career and retirement prospects. Some of the important elements that need to be considered in negotiations are how long it may take you to find comparable employment elsewhere and when you might retire, being released from non-compete agreements that may affect your job search and details of any employment contracts you may have signed.
Source: The Daily Times, “Council, ex-city manager settle severance package,” Scott Muska, Dec. 8, 2011