Severance Contract Drafting Law in Florida for Employers
Serving You and The State of Florida
Terminating work contracts with staff can be complicated. There are many considerations that need to be taken care of, and when severance pay is in the mix, things can be even more difficult to take care of. Employers need to be sure that they are taking care of all the various steps that are necessary to provide severance to staff correctly.
If you own a Florida business, you might not be sure what the process of granting severance really entails. Sometimes mistakes are made because HR does not know how to handle the documentation related to the severance process. When these mistakes happen, former employees can actually sue your company. If you are looking for assistance in creating the right severance contract for use in Florida, you need to reach out to the team at Lopez Law. We have years of experience with these kinds of contract tasks and can help you create a severance contract that will prevent confusion and mistakes when letting employees go.
Is a Severance Package Legally Required in the State of Florida?
It is important for businesses to be aware that Florida law doesn’t require that you have a severance package for those that you release from employment with the company. This is something that is completely up to the owner of the business, and the process of generating a severance package is done in the form of an offer to the person who is leaving the company. This process is individual in some cases or more standardized in others but must always be governed by the language in a contract that has been signed by both parties.
Businesses should never engage in handshake deals with employees who are leaving the company. This can lead to all kinds of misunderstandings that are avoidable. You do not want to set up your business for a fall by neglecting the process of creating a proper severance contract that can be used every time you release someone from a contract.
What Are the Components of Severance Packages?
In most cases, the severance package will outline the final pay, benefits, and release conditions related to the employee leaving the company. There are rules that must be followed when drafting this document that are related to the portion of the contract that is considered the liability waiver. This waiver must be included due to the civil rights laws that are laid out by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Age discrimination in employment as well as Americans with disabilities rights and equal pay rights, must be adhered to when drafting the severance package that you will offer to staff.
In cases where the person who is getting a severance offer is over 40 years of age, there are other liability waivers that must be considered. These are the Older Workers Benefits Protection Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The severance that you offer to people of this age must be in keeping with the guidelines laid out by these federal employment laws.
The state of Florida adheres to all of these federal employment acts, and the severance packages that are created for use in Florida by your business must comply with their guidelines. Further, the severance package must be:
- Written in a clear and plain manner that anyone can understand. It must use plain language, and it must be written to a standard grade level.
- The severance package must be made in exchange for consideration of anything of value that the employee is entitled to.
- It must adhere to the requirements of the Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and this act must be listed by name in the document.
- The attorney or employer will need to explain the terms of the contract before it is signed, and everyone must sign off on the document for it to be valid.
- Employees must not be asked to waive their rights, and the severance package must not be overruled by discrimination, retaliatory claims, and other kinds of potential problems.
A strict timeline should also be followed for these kinds of documents and their execution. The federal guideline for the execution of this document is as follows:
- The employee has to have 21 days to think about the agreement or 45 days if the severance is offered as part of a severance associated with a group of employees.
- The employee can cancel the agreement within seven days of signature.
It is clear why it might be helpful to have a legal expert take care of the process of creating and signing this document. There are many statutes and rules that must be followed, and it is key that the document is written correctly so that there can be no accusation that your business did not enter the contract in good faith or that your company did not communicate the terms of the agreement clearly.
All severance packages also include language that states clearly that the employee does not give up the right to file a discrimination claim with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
When Can Employees Sue Your Business?
The question that most Florida businesses have when it comes to severance packages is what kinds of conditions can lead to a lawsuit. This is one of the reasons that having a legal team working on these kinds of contracts is critical. Most of the errors that lead to lawsuits surrounding severance pay are caused by incorrect language in the document or missed timelines and a lack of proper notification to the employee.
Other issues might be retaliation for taking the severance pay or retaliation for seeking it out. Further issues can crop up if the document is not signed properly or if the clauses that protect worker rights are left out of the document as well. There are lots of factors that need to be included in this document if you are going to offer it as part of your termination process for certain jobs.
The team at Lopez Law Group has years of experience with these kinds of cases and can represent your business if you have found yourself in a dispute over the details of your severance package. However, it is much better to allow the team to create your severance package documents and execute them as an experienced third party. When you have a skilled legal team advising you about the process for this kind of termination of staff and making sure that all the documentation is handled correctly, you are much more likely to have a good experience when you offer severance packages to staff.
What About Fraud in Severance Packages?
While it is usually not intentional, some Florida businesses can be sued for fraud by offering items in the severance package that actually cannot be delivered upon when an employee leaves the company. When you are not sure about the rules and regulations that surround this kind of termination agreement, it can be easy to make mistakes. It is even more likely that you will be accused of this kind of action if you have not allowed the proper time for staff to look at the package and decide if they want to sign for it.
Fraud in severance package offers is more common than you might think but is not usually caused by an actual intent to defraud the former employee after they have left the company. In other cases, employers will try to stop employees from changing their minds about the signed documentation because they are not aware that the former employee has the right to do this.
There are many reasons that severance package offers can be offered incorrectly, and you want to avoid being accused of and sued for fraud related to this kind of mistake. When letting a large group of employees go at the same time, it is more common to make these kinds of mistakes. This is why a legal expert should be involved in your severance package cases from start to finish.
When you have a legal team involved in the process of creating and executing these agreements, you will be much less likely to run into pitfalls related to fraud or explanations that are not clear. Employees who have had the entire process explained to them are much more likely to feel like they have been given a fair deal by your company when they decide to leave or when you downsize and terminate groups of employees.
What Can Lopez Law Group Do For You?
The team at Lopez Law Group has years of experience with these kinds of cases and can be trusted to tackle every aspect of severance contract law and the creation process of these documents with ease. You can count on us to draft effective and correct legal documents to govern severance pay, and we can also be tasked with handling the signing and notification process for your staff that are looking to end their employment with your business.
Having an impartial expert involved in caring for and creating these documents can make all the difference when it comes to avoiding lawsuits. Additionally, we have the knowledge that is necessary to explain the various federal laws that govern the details of these contracts if employees have questions about what their rights are. The more transparent you can be with your former staff members, the less likely it will be that you will end up in a legal wrangle with them related to the severance package that you wish to offer.
As an added benefit, we keep up to date on changes to the laws and regulations that enforce and guide the creation of these documents. If updates need to be made to your severance packages, we will take care of this work before you run into issues with people that you have had to sign out-of-date contracts. Keeping things up to date when it comes to processes and included language can be daunting if you are trying to handle this work yourself. That’s why the team at Lopez Law Group can be such a good fit for your business when it comes to handling and supporting severance package work.
No matter what kind of severance package you want to offer to your staff who are leaving the company, we can make sure that the documents that we create are accurate, correct, and legally binding. You will also be able to trust us to explain the language of these documents to you and to your former staff and manage the timelines associated with the signing and notification processes. The peace of mind that you will get from working with a skilled legal team who can handle this kind of business documentation is invaluable to most employers.
Working With a Skilled Legal Expert Makes a Big Difference
When it comes to severance contract drafting and following severance agreement law, you need to be sure that you are creating and handling these documents properly. There are many reasons that you might run into problems when it comes to the execution of these documents, and you do not want to get sued over a simple misunderstanding of the law or an error in your contract. It is already expensive and time-consuming for businesses to offer severance pay, and you need to be sure that you do not add legal strife to the cost and time involved in this process.
The team at Lopez Law Group can help you to create contracts that are correct and properly executed at every step along the way. We have years of experience working on these kinds of documents, and we can ensure that you are not going to run into problems that could have been avoided with ease. We have the expertise that you have been looking for to create severance packages that offer something valuable to the employee and that are not going to open your business up to legal difficulties. Contact us today to schedule a consultation so we can get started handling your severance package needs right away.
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