What to do if I’m about to be laid off and my employer wants me to waive unemployment benefits in exchange for a severance package?

UPDATED: Mar 20, 2012

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What to do if I’m about to be laid off and my employer wants me to waive unemployment benefits in exchange for a severance package?

Obviously I want what’s best for me. A severance package would be great but unless it’s a huge amount, I don’t think it’s worth giving up unemployment benefits. Can he ask me to do that? Is it legal to tell that to an employee? The reason for being laid off is that the company is moving out of the area and he won’t be needing my administrative services anymore.

Asked on March 20, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The only way you could "waive" unemployment benefits would be if you resigned or quit, rather than being laid off. This is clearly voluntary on your part--you cannot be forced to resign. Therefore, it is your choice whether to do this. The company can certainly ask you to do this, and they can also offer severance to you if you agree to do this; whether it is a good choice for you, however, depends on 1) how much are they offering, vs. what unemployment benefits would you expect to receive; and 2) how long do you think it would take you to find a new job.

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