Boss is retiring in April. How can I ask for severance pacakge?

My boss - CIO of a major financial company in Midtown Manhattan is retiring. His last day is April 1st. I am his assistant. I only work with him. HR approached and informed me they will do their best to find something for me. I no longer want to work at my company if my boss isn't going to be there. So I would like to ask for severance package. Should I approach my boss first to get his input/guidance. Also HR informed me that I am paid extremely high as an assistant and that I may hit some brick walls! So my intution is telling me to be proactive looking externally. But I also want to get a severance package. I've been with company for almost 9 years. We will be getting bonus in February. My plan is to definitely stay until bonus, ask for severance package. What are your thoughts? How can I ask for severance pacakge.

1 answer  |  asked Dec 15, 2016 12:28 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

V Jonas Urba
Great question! Thanks for asking.

Most employees don't do so and sometimes it costs them.

First, no company has to give anyone severance. Nowadays 1 week for every year of service is not unusual although some companies offer nothing. They have to offer some or adequate consideration if you agree to resign but never do that without seeking a legal consultation.

Second, being fired or told you will be fired is best. Having your pay cut substantially can be constructive discharge which is like being fired. If you simply quit do NOT count on unemployment benefits. Those decisions are made by the state and when the state inquires most employers answer honestly regarding whether you quit or were fired.

Third, everything is negotiable!

Fourth, were you subject to any discrimination which you reported in the recent past or might you or your boss have been whistleblowers? Was your boss asked to leave?

Fifth, do you have another job lined up?

Since you are highly compensated for your position don't quit until you discuss these and other options with a labor and employment lawyer.

Although the consultation will probably (hopefully) cost you money you want to get some advice that you feel comfortable relying on. We sometimes see a client and say "now I see why the employer made the right or wrong decision to let someone go."

Best, off the cuff, without seeing and meeting you, advice is to act as if nothing happened and that you intend to stay for years or maybe decades. The company has already sent you a message that you may lose your job because you are highly compensated. Don't let that scare you into resigning. Being told you will be fired or laid off is almost always better than quitting.

Who else is being asked to leave?
Who is staying or will anyone replace those who leave?
Will witnesses support your solid work history?
Has your industry changed?
What are your employment prospects?
Are you social media connected such as with LinkedIn?
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Can you take advantage of any training or development before you leave?
Where have others from your company landed?
Have you discussed some of these issues with your boss if you trust her or him?

Get all of your documents in order (i.e. performance reviews, handbooks, etc....) and consult with a labor and employment lawyer. The fee you pay will be well worth it and may result in her or him negotiating on your behalf if the worst case happens. Good luck.

posted by V Jonas Urba  |  Dec 15, 2016 1:06 PM [EST]

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