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I know I will be laid off in a couple weeks (with severance pay). I have another job offer, and they don't know I will be laid off soon. Is there a downside to push my start date to after getting laid off from my other job so I qualify for the severance?

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  • What do you mean by "severance"? Severance is usually paid by the terminating company to the employee as an appreciation of their service. If your current company will only pay you your severance if you don't have another job, then it's not their business if you have a new offer or not; tell them you don't have one and take the severance, and also take the new job. Unless that is legally not allowed for some reason that makes no sense to me. – Ertai87 Nov 5 '20 at 21:57
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    @Ertai87 I think the issue is, if they take the new job now, they will not be employed at the current company "at the right time" to get laid off. In other words, OP would be terminating the employment (resigning), rather than the current company terminating it (via layoffs). – employee-X Nov 5 '20 at 23:06
  • @Stealthmanz If your teammates are getting laid off in rounds, could you ask to get laid off sooner? :-) But, two weeks sounds like a normal notice period, anyway. – employee-X Nov 5 '20 at 23:09
  • @employee-X is correct. If I quit I'm not getting "laid off", I'm resigning. I guess the core of my question is - is having a lay off on my "record" worth getting the severance pay? – stealthmanz Nov 6 '20 at 2:16
  • What are the conditions of the severance pay? Do they pay you only from when you get laid until when you start a new job? Do you have to tell them you got a new job? – guest Nov 6 '20 at 6:46
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There are downsides

  1. The offer could be rescinded
  2. You could start off on a bad note with the new company when they find out WHY you delayed.

Mutual friends, gossip, public information about who gets laid off..... You would never believe just how interconnected the world is these days. The entire world is at most 6 people removed from you. I ended up working for the same company as someone I had not seen in over 20 years. Didn't even know he worked there. Always assume any info about you is public

A job is better than the promise of severance. I personally wouldn't take the risk.

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  • How would they find out unless I volunteered the information? Background check? – stealthmanz Nov 6 '20 at 2:17
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    @stealthmanz mutual friends, gossip, public information about who gets laid off..... You would never believe just how interconnected the world is these days. The entire world is at most 6 people removed from you. I ended up working for the same company as someone I had not seen in over 20 years. Didn't even know he worked there. Always assume any info about you is public – Old_Lamplighter Nov 6 '20 at 2:28
  • "A job is better than the promise of severance." Yes, this is the main thing. If you have a new job offer, take it and get started now. Just move on with your life. – user70848 Nov 7 '20 at 1:25
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The severance pay will be cash for not working. Find out how much cash for how long not working, and what’s the earliest point you can start a new job. If it delays your start date by say three weeks, that’s three weeks pay lost, so subtract that from the severance. But a few weeks extra holiday is also nice.

If it is a lot of money, then a new employer will understand that you will delay your start by three weeks to avoid losing £20,000. And if they are not understanding, that money is a good buffer to find a different job. I would absolutely not lie about reasons for the delay in starting, that will cause you trouble.

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    Presumably, the three week delay will be because the OP has to reach the lay-off date, and so is technically still working and will still be paid to that point. Severance pay comes in after that. So they don't really lose three weeks pay by delaying. I agree with everything else, including being honest to the new employer (just don't tell the old employer anything). – HorusKol Nov 5 '20 at 23:12
  • Being honest makes sense. The concern is the fact that I got "laid off" before starting the next job could potentially put the new job offer in some sort of jeopardy. So doesn't seem worthwhile to wait until I am laid off and better to just quit on my own. – stealthmanz Nov 6 '20 at 2:19
  • In most places I'm aware of, being "laid off", especially with severance, shouldn't be detrimental to you - it's a consequence of the business not being able to keep you employed. Being "let go", on the other hand, would carry more negative connotations. – HorusKol Nov 6 '20 at 8:45
  • @HorusKol "Sure, we can delay your start so you can collect your severance. Oh, BTW, there was a problem with the budget, and the position has been reassessed at 5k less per year" – Old_Lamplighter Nov 7 '20 at 2:12
  • @Old_Lamplighter if a company is going to be as stingy as that, they'll eventually screw you over some other ways too. Better to find out early and look for a better employer – HorusKol Nov 7 '20 at 2:53
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What country? What is your definition of "a few weeks"?

In the united states it is customary to put in a 2 week notice when leaving on positive terms. Most hiring companies know this and plan accordingly. I would speak to the hiring company and get a feel for how far back you can push your hire on date.

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  • United States. Yeah I'm not concerned that the new company would not be able to extend my start date, it's more around the impact of delaying for the sake of getting the severance which would mean I would need to be laid off and probably would need to communicate that with the new employer. If I quit sooner, then I quit rather than getting laid off. – stealthmanz Nov 6 '20 at 2:22
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The answer to this really hinges on how certain you are of whether and when you will be laid off by your current company. The new company won't wait "until you are laid off", because that could be forever. However, people ask to negotiate start dates all the time; if you are reasonably certain you will be laid off by the end of this month (today is November 6th 2020) and you ask for 3 weeks, or you ask for December 1, or something like that, that's a reasonable thing to ask for and you should be able to request it without providing a reason. However, once you make that request, you have to honour that date; if you say "I want to start in 3 weeks", but then in 3 weeks you haven't been laid off and gotten your severance, then that's too bad you'll have to resign and deal with whatever happens from that.

What you absolutely cannot do, is to say "I want to start not now but soon and I'll let you know later" without saying what that means. The company won't wait for you forever. They need a hard date, and that date has to be reasonable. Today being November 6th, you can't ask them for January 1, that's not reasonable.

As for the reason, probably the new company won't ask you for a reason. If they do, you can lie and say it's personal stuff, or you want "decompression time", or something like that (nobody will question any of that), or you can explain it truthfully, that your company is having a round of layoffs and you want to get severance. In the former case, the excuse is more flimsy so they may deny your request more, but in the latter case you are telling them you are about to be fired which may have some repercussions in whether or not they want to give you the offer at all. Of course you can (and should!) explain that the layoffs are not performance-related and they should feel confident in your abilities anyway, but nevertheless some companies may be less receptive to this sort of reason.

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  • Yeah the latter issue is the reason I would be hesitant. I do think 90% they should understand it is not performance related and it wouldn't impact my new job at all, but even if the risk is just 10% I'm starting to think it's not worth taking. – stealthmanz Nov 7 '20 at 0:25
  • @stealthmanz Realistically you're probably right. My suggestion would be to just say you'd like some personal time and if they don't bite then just take the offer and drop the severance issue, unless the severance is a very significant sum. – Ertai87 Nov 9 '20 at 15:38

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