I am based in the UK. I am aware that as part of taking a new job in the US, they negotiate severance; i.e. if they are let go for any reason other than performance they get a greater lump sum.

Executives negotiate this and are often kept on the books for months after they leave. My friend has also been offered a role in the UK where they offered him "deemed service"; in the event that he is let go he will be remunerated as though he was with the company for 5 years.

My questions:

How popular is this? When do you negotiate this? What do you ask for?

  • 2
    I think for anyone below executive level, you need to be very careful about 1 or 2 items you choose to negotiate on. Negotiate on salary, benefits, vacation, things that are tangible and relate directly to you being a long-term employee. Negotiating on how good your severance will be seems like focusing on the wrong thing - I have never heard of anyone negotiating on the components of hypothetical severance pay. Rather, I have seen people negotiate on what severance package they will accept after they have been laid off, before they sign documents. This is in Canada. Jul 12, 2021 at 13:10
  • What @Grade'Eh'Bacon says sounds about right for the US as well.
    – chepner
    Jul 12, 2021 at 13:34
  • I hear exactly what you are saying, I heard of the concept initially from lady on the internet who goes by the name of JobDoctor.
    – Breezecom
    Jul 12, 2021 at 14:51
  • @Grade'Eh'Bacon You do need to be careful in this regard when accepting a job offer. Many employers in Canada (and probably elsewhere) deliberately include terms in an offer that act to limit reasonable notice to statutory minimums (e.g. 1 week per year), meaning there is no reason an employer would need to negotiate the reasonable notice period when letting someone go. The notice would already be fixed at a low level. At the very least, job seekers should be aware of this tactic and consider removing terms that seek to unreasonably limit their entitlement to notice or pay in lieu. Jul 12, 2021 at 20:53

2 Answers 2


It's unclear from your question as to whether you are asking about terms of service in the US, or asking about terms of service in the UK (using the US as a parallel example)

When do you negotiate for this?

In either case you negotiate for it when you join the company. Theoretically you could negotiate for it any time the terms of your service up being reconsidered - for example if they were offering you an improved salary/benefits package for some reason. However it makes little sense if you have already been with the company a while - there is no point in offering you 5 years of deemed service if you already have 5 years of real service.

How popular is this?

In the US it's very rare, because companies don't usually owe more to a person with five years service more than a person with zero years service. "At will employment" means that companies mostly can fire someone for any or no reason, giving at most a few weeks notice (though it can vary by state). If you wish to guarantee yourself a minimum payout in the event of being laid off you would have to negotiate the terms specifically, not just "deemed to have five years service".

In both the US and the UK these terms are unusual except for key executive positions. It's unusual in the US for the above reasons, and in the UK because it's very expensive for the company in the event that you turn out not to be as good as they think, or even if they decide that your role is no longer necessary. However it may be worth asking if you will incur significant expenses by taking the job (such as having to relocate overseas at your own expense). Make sure you are not left tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket because you are let go from a job in the first few weeks.

You ask for this by asking for it - say that you want to be treated as if you had N years of service from day 1. I would advise consulting a lawyer to check any agreement, especially if you are negotiating an employment contract overseas.


I fear that the original poster does not have the context to understand the "at will" employment situation in the US. It's customary for US employees to give 2 weeks' notice for leaving. It's also customary for US employers to give 2-4 weeks severance pay for termination. The employer may offer more severance in exchange for signing an agreement not to sue / not to disparage.


  • 3
    This doesn't seem to answer any of the questions. Jul 12, 2021 at 18:38
  • @DJClayworth the question quite clearly mentions the US: "I am aware that as part of taking a new job in the US, they negotiate severance".
    – RonJohn
    Jul 12, 2021 at 22:07
  • The OP asks about being treated as as if they had more years of service. Neither the answer nor the linked article mention it. Jul 12, 2021 at 22:21

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