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?
There are downsides
- The offer could be rescinded
- 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.
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.
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.
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.