RE: Tech writers and severance packages

Subject: RE: Tech writers and severance packages
From: "Andrew Dugas" <dugas -at- intalio -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 2002 09:34:27 -0800

This topic was recently (mid-December?) discussed on the NPR show "Talk of
the Nation" and the gist was that you could negotiate more severance and
that corporations typically allocate money in anticipation of this event.
Regarding pecking order and ability to negotiate, the speaker said that even
receptionists could negotiate for more.

The window for doing so, however, is limited. When you are given you're
walking papers, any severance is contingent on your signing a release of any
claims against the company. No signature, no severance. Severance is
optional; no corporation, short of a pre-existing agreement such as a golden
parachute, is obligated to give anyone a dime (excepting unused vacation
pay, expenses, etc.) when the layoff hits.

The severance package is part good will, part buying you off from making any
future legal claim against the company. So that is the only moment when you
have any power over the company. You need to ask yourself a few questions.
How long have you been with the company? Is the company going under or just
downsizing? How much legal trouble are you capable? How generous is the
severance being offered? Would you be shooting yourself in the foot?

Check the NPR archives. There's a good chance you could find the show and
listen to it online.

-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-techwr-l-88324 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
[mailto:bounce-techwr-l-88324 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com]On Behalf Of Shea
Michael EXT
Sent: Monday, March 04, 2002 6:36 AM
Subject: AW: Tech writers and severance packages

Anonymous asks:

> Have you ever negotiated a severance package into your agreement? Is this
> ever even *done* in our line of work?
Yes, it can be done. I did it, though my situation may be different. My new
job required me to move across a continent and an ocean. My skillset also
made me valuable to my then prospective employer: native English-speaker,
but still able to communicate in the language of the host country, plus
years of experience as a technical communicator.

Considering the risk and expense of moving halfway around the world with my
family, I wanted to have some reassurance that they would not drop me at the
first sign of trouble. So I asked for recompensation should they lay me off
for whatever reason within a given time period. In return I offered to
recompensate the company of some of the expenses they incurred on my behalf
in bringing me here, should I jump ship within the same time period. My
employer was understanding of my perceived risk and agreed. (Thanks to my
boss who reads this list).

This may not work in every case. It is a matter of the perceived need the
employer has of your services and their willingness to work with you. The
best employers will listen to your request and make a decision and not hold
it against you either way. The worst employers you probably don't want to
work for anyway. Your best chance for success will be if you can make a
clear convincing argument for why you should have such a clause. Or at least
convince them that you are such a worthwhile hire that they would be foolish
not to agree to such a request.

Michael Shea
Am Schlossberg 14, D-82547 Eurasburg, Germany

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AW: Tech writers and severance packages: From: Shea Michael EXT

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