If you are about to leave your job because you are getting laid off or for other reasons not related to your performance, you need to be well prepared and well informed. While severance pay in Florida is not required by law, your employer may offer you a package with a personalized employment separation agreement. But it is important to be cautious. An employer is looking out for their best interests — not yours.
A Florida employment law attorney leads as your legal advocate and has the experience and expertise workers need when it comes to negotiating the best possible outcome for severance pay. It can be very easy to make a big mistake without the right information and legal help.
Frequently Asked Questions about Severance Pay in Florida
What is Severance Pay?
Severance pay is pay and benefits an employee receives when they are forced to leave a job, not by their choice, which often occurs when companies go through layoffs or what some call a RIF (Reduction in Force). Severance pay is not a given when this happens. Some companies offer their employees something for their service, but initial offers are not necessarily in your best interest as an employee.
What Are the Florida Laws?
There are no requirements for severance pay under Florida labor law. This is also true for the federal law, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). But, that being said — you do have the right to negotiate your severance pay with your employer. Know that signing an agreement typically does include certain provisions to receive your severance pay in Florida.
What Are Some of the Typical Provisions Included in a Severance Agreement?
A Florida severance agreement and release can include a variety of provisions that the employee has to agree to when they leave the job. There is value that is represented in the agreement, and it is important to understand what you are giving up when/if you sign it.
Typical provisions in severance pay agreements in Florida include:
- A non-compete clause (NCC) — where one party (typically the employee) agrees to not start a trade or profession in competition with the other party (typically the employer)
- A release of claims against the company — where the employee would be legally bound not to file a claim against the company, such as a hostile work environment or wrongful termination case
- A confidentiality clause — where the employee agrees to not divulge the company’s data or information to others without proper authorization
- A non-disparagement provision — where the employee agrees not to say anything negative about the company or its leaders, products, or services in any form of communication
All of these are legally binding when you sign an employment separation agreement in Florida. These provisions incorporate a lot of value, and it is critical not to undervalue yourself when it comes to severance pay.
What Do I Need to Know About Unemployment and Severance Pay in Florida?
Severance pay in Florida can definitely impact unemployment benefits. It can directly affect when and/or whether the employee qualifies for unemployment insurance benefits. But, if the severance pay is given in a lump sum (all at once), it does not affect the end date when it comes to the time frame for qualification for unemployment insurance.
This question highlights one of the many benefits of utilizing a Florida employment law attorney for the negotiations of the severance pay. The attorney is well-equipped to make a much better deal for you than if you try to go it alone, which can lessen the impact on your ability to receive unemployment insurance benefits.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring an Employment Law Attorney When Negotiating Severance Pay?
It is always a challenging time when a job comes to an end, which is particularly true when it is not your choice to leave. Whether you are being laid off or being offered severance pay for another reason, hiring a Florida employment law attorney comes with multiple benefits:
✔ Employment lawyers stand up to powerful employers
It can be very intimidating and stressful when you are trying to decide if what they are attempting to give you is what you rightfully deserve. Employment lawyers work with aggressive employers all the time and know how to stand up for your rights to fair severance pay in Florida.
✔ Employment lawyers know the complexities of negotiations
You have to be careful when it comes to negotiating severance pay. Sometimes, an employer can view any negotiations as a refusal or rejection of their offer and then withdraw it completely — leaving the employee with nothing. Consulting with an employment law attorney about the details of your situation is advised.
✔ Employment lawyers fight for the best possible outcome
When it comes to severance pay, many employees don’t know their full worth to a company. The parameters of the employment separation agreement in Florida, such as non-compete agreements, may be very severe, which could be very valuable. Also, when you agree not to file a claim against an employer for any reason, such as wrongful termination or sexual harassment, this may not be advisable, depending on your situation.
✔ Employment lawyers have you and your family’s interest in mind
Having a personal legal advocate for you and your family’s interests is so crucial during times of upheaval, such as having to leave your job. The future is often uncertain and having an experienced attorney will help you be best positioned for what comes next.
When you work with a Florida employment law attorney, he or she will act as your advocate and negotiate with the employer to get the best possible outcome with severance pay when you leave your job.
Contact Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. today for a free, confidential consultation. We are the employee’s law firm — fighting hard for justice for workers across the state of Florida.