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Tips on negotiating early retirement package?
Old 10-15-2010, 07:26 PM   #1
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Tips on negotiating early retirement package?

It looks like the end is finally coming for me, unless I want to go back to full-time status, which I don't. I was willing to stay on part-time indefinitely, but since this has been coming for a few months now, I'm pretty much ready to go, just don't want to leave empty handed.

I thought my job would be passed on to a co-worker who is also working another project, but now it looks like they are going to move it to India. When my boss first brought this up I told him not to expect me to train myself out of a job, but now he says they would offer me a carrot.

Last year they offered a real nice ER package, but only to those 55+ with 5 or more years of service. One year salary, plus the equivalent of 2 years medical and 401K matching plus outplacement service and an extended period of stock option vesting for underwater shares. I'm going to use that as a starting point to ask for in return for training my replacement. I don't expect to get all of it, but if I got something close that'd be great. I'm also going to make sure it's based on full time pay since I've only been half-time for 2 years. The company doesn't have a pension or a real retirement program. The most I've seen is a retiree medical plan and it's not very good at all.

Alternatively I could just see what package they'll offer me now and let somebody else deal with the turnover. There are other people with the skills, but they are rustier on them then me, and they are also tied up on other things.

Worst case I figure is that it's usually a somewhat lengthy process to fire someone based on performance. From what I've seen they put you on a 90 day plan and I think throw some kind of package out during that time. I could basically retire on the job for 3 months or more. And since they'd be setting up action plans to address the performance problems, I'd say that I don't have a chance of hitting their goals unless I'm full time, so it'd be 3 months at full time pay. If they just out and canned me without the 90 days, I'd be eligible for unemployment and from what I understand they like to avoid those claims so I don't think that will happen.

I'm talking with my boss again on Tuesday to let him know if I'm willing to do the skills transfer, at which time I'm planning to ask for the past retirement package as a starting point. I'd also offer to sign a no-compete clause, which is no big deal to me since I really plan to ER. But I did let my boss know that we have a mutual colleague working at a competitor so I do have another option.

Any tips on what else I can do, or what other options I'll reasonably have? I trust my boss pretty well, he's also a friend and has given me a heads up that this is coming, but he is also obligated to the company. I don't really know his boss and have no basis on which to trust him. Plus I'm the one who has to live with the results so it's up to me to look out for myself. I've also got a call in to an old boss to try to get another perspective from someone I trust.

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Old 10-15-2010, 07:39 PM   #2
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Make sure you get it in writing and that the offer does not have too many weasel words (e.g. anything that makes your pay out discretionary).

I would also stick with the line that you were expecting/intending to continue indefinitely - this maintains the position that the onus is on them to give you a suitable inducement to leave early and to train your replacement. The more reluctant and disappointed you can credibly sound, the better.

Good luck.

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Old 10-16-2010, 03:56 AM   #3
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Your boss is likely to only have so much authority in the matter... if any! However, he might influence decisions.

Ultimately there may be some negotiation room or not. Does not hurt to ask.

For example if you have need for medical coverage (and you reasonably might have qualified) until you can transition to other coverage... ask for it.

Businesses generally try to be even handed (to avoid hassle and law suits). If you have a legitimate position, they will probably allow it.

Work the best deal you can "in a polite non-emotional manner" and exit.
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Old 10-16-2010, 04:02 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by RunningBum View Post
Any tips on what else I can do, or what other options I'll reasonably have?
Remember the word "Consultant". Add up the $ value of the retirement package you mentioned. Compare that number with the $ value of the package you are offered.
Work in a 'consultant' period/$ to make up the difference. You will make yourself available to be a consultant to the company for a period of time.

I'll take 10% of the consultant fee.
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Old 10-16-2010, 04:14 AM   #5
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Your boss may be out of a job as well and be in a good mood to give a nice severance package in order to screw the company.
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Old 10-16-2010, 05:47 AM   #6
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chinaco is right, my boss says that HR controls the package, though he must have some influence. He's got other projects that will live on, so he's not going to be out of a job. But he worked on my project before he got into mgmt so he has some sympathy.
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Old 10-16-2010, 06:55 AM   #7
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Depending on size of company, your boss is going to be really bound by corporate policy on what can/can't be done.

I'd pursue a contractor status at some daily rate for a defined period with a minimum retainer / guarantee number of days.

Friend of mine did this - however his company couldn't hire him directly as a contractor - he had to go through their approved agency - the agency unfortunately got a small portion - but the firm grossed up the pay to compensate.

Then it got better - the agency has since found some other interesting part time / temporary gigs that the guy has been w*rking occasionally. Helped him personally with transition.
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Old 10-16-2010, 11:47 AM   #8
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You have a reasonable starting point.

From my experiences in negotiations, I'd like to offer two suggestions.

Lay out your offer succinctly (practice offline) and then shut up. Keeping your offer brief and to the point is really important. That's one of the toughest things to do in a negotiation. If the person across the table is quiet, don't feel like you have to fill in the silence. Don't extemporize - you may say something that you will regret.

Secondly, sleep over any offer. Don't feel pressured to decide on the spot. Go back to your office or home & draw up the pros & cons. I find putting thoughts to paper clears up my mind.

All the best.
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Old 10-16-2010, 12:02 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Delawaredave5 View Post
Depending on size of company, your boss is going to be really bound by corporate policy on what can/can't be done.
True. I retired from a large multi-national, but requested to cut back my hours a few years before retirement.

Even though my request went to "the top" (whatever that is), I was informed that they could not make any "special arrangements".

So be it - I put in my retirement request/papers two years before planned ...

No regrets at all...
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Old 10-16-2010, 12:40 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by RunningBum View Post
Any tips on what else I can do, or what other options I'll reasonably have?
The more things you're willing the negotiate away, the more they'll feel obligated to say "Yes" to something.

If you're looking for things to be talked out of then you could ask to keep your frequent-flyer miles or your work laptop or other professional gear. Would you be able to sell back sick days or vacation time?

This might be a good time to network with the other Megacorps retirees/layoffs to ask them if there were any unpleasant surprises that they didn't appreciate for the first couple months.

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Old 10-16-2010, 04:38 PM   #11
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Luckily I telecommute so this has all been done over the phone, so far. I'll definitely get it in writing, but I don't have to worry about a poker face.

I hadn't thought about offering contract services. We have the same thing that they won't hire individual contractors, but I might be able to get a great package if I offer to be available to help out. Or I might want to sever the ties. Something to think about.

Last year's early retirement package has things I'd be willing to give up. I don't want to ask for much that I don't really want, in case they cut down the money items and leave the junk on the table.
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Old 10-16-2010, 04:53 PM   #12
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I echo the comments that megacorps generally are stuck with HR rules. With my megacorp, what they often did was bring back ER's for up to year on contracts as consultants, usually part time. Although the policy does not allow personal contracts they had a few approved companies that they employ contractors through.

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