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(TL;DR The main question is stated succinctly at the end)

I'm resigning from a position soon and will be asked to sign some paperwork before going;

I'm generally leaving on good terms.

I've seen some exit paperwork at other companies that involves a separation agreement asking you to agree to certain things, like not saying anything negative about your experience at the company, not disclosing anything about what you've worked on, releasing the company from any potential future legal claims, etc;

At a previous job, they'd waived the repayment of a relocation fee that I would have otherwise owed, in exchange for signing such paperwork (For example they had experienced issues with people leaving negative reviews on sites like Glassdoor, and included a clause in the agreement saying that you agreed not to do so); I know that there's a certain value to it on their end as it resolves potential liabilities and protects their reputation, etc

At the company I'm leaving right now, I don't have anything hanging over my head that they might waive in exchange for me to sign a separation agreement, and I'm wondering.... If I'm not gaining anything for my part in signing.... is there any incentive for me to actually sign?

Would it be super innapropriate for me to ask for some sort of (modest) payment (similar to a severance) as consideration for signing a separation agreement, even though I'm quitting?

Of course I don't want to seem like some kind of jerk when things are otherwise ending on a pleasant note, it's just a question that's been bugging my curiousity

  • Sounds like you're looking for a way to not leave on good terms. – onnoweb Dec 11 '19 at 18:40
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You asked,

Would it be super innapropriate for me to ask for some sort of (modest) payment (similar to a severance) as consideration for signing a separation agreement, even though I'm quitting?

I don't know if inappropriate is really the right word, but I'm having a hard time understanding how a payment to you makes any sense, in terms of how you would decide whether or not to sign anything.

Basically, if you think the paperwork has merit and you can agree to the terms, you should sign it. If you don't think you can agree to the terms, I don't understand how a modest payment would make that any different - so, ultimately, I don't know how a payment would change your perspective on the legal (and other) implications to signing such paperwork. It's hard to consider how you would even put a cash price on the types of rights that are typically in exit paperwork, especially since you claim you're on good terms and leaving voluntarily.

If your manager and HR know that you're on good terms, with no outstanding issues, and leaving of your own choice, asking them for money might sound like a bit of a bluff, at best (if you've got no outstanding issues, you're not really signing away anything of value) or an attempt at ransom at worst ("Pay me now or else I will find something to make into a problem!").

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    The company is asking for something of value to them. A contract should provide something of value to both parties. While OP shouldn't appear to make threats, there's no reason to sign it unless both parties get something out of it. – Kathy Dec 9 '19 at 20:38
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    In general, I agree - but in the case of separation agreements, the "contract" is only providing value to the employer in the case where the employee has some unresolved complaint or issue (which they might complain about on Glassdoor or whatever). In the case where the employee is parting on good terms, there is no value to either party - and the paperwork is being presented because that's the process - not because it actually matters. Hence my statement about the employee implying they need compensation is essentially a bluff and/or an empty threat. – dwizum Dec 10 '19 at 15:14
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    Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating for asking for money. But if there's no value to either party other than that's the process, then there's no good reason to sign it. Just smile, say "thanks, but we don't need this", and walk out the door. – Kathy Dec 11 '19 at 15:09
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    I would absolutely agree with that! – dwizum Dec 11 '19 at 15:09
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is there any incentive for me to actually sign?

The only potential incentive is some sort of reference for the future. But usually it is HR that asks you to sign such documents, not your supervisor or coworkers whom you would likely use as references down the line.

Personally, I have never signed any exit papers as they are written for the benefit of the company, not the exiting employee. There is nothing "jerk" about not wanting to sign away potential rights. As pleasant as your time with the company has been up until now, you never know if you will have to challenge them later in some way and cannot due to "agreeing" with them by signing their paperwork. Also, asking for compensation for signing will not make up for any future rights you may have signed away.

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If the separation agreement is overly broad, delay indefinitely.

Thanks. I'm going to have my lawyer review it.

At the very least, this gives you time to sleep on it and show the paperwork to others.

If they press you on a due-by-sign date, just say that you're getting free legal advice from a friend and you don't want to rush him.

And if/when you do speak to a real lawyer, he'll most likely tell you not to sign anything anyway, unless you're getting something in return.

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Always get a legal opinion from an expert

There are more surprises and hidden turns in these things that you would suspect. There may be particular phrases in such an agreement that have impact on your ability to get unemployment benefits for example. Or there might be a clause missing that an expert would know should be in there.

Get something in return

They want something from you, and you currently don't have any obligation to just give it. So you should get something in return.

It doesn't have to be money

Getting a glowing letter of recommendation that you can keep in your pocket can be nice, and seems like a fair trade for not saying anything nasty about them on Glassdoor.

Getting an onerous non-compete agreement reduced in scope or waived entirely could also be an option.

As a negotiating tactic, you could bring up money and some of these other things. The other things don't cost them money, don't change their budget, so they're less hassle. They may be more inclined to give you those things which are easy for them to give, if you are willing to give up on the money.

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