Can we require riffed employees to sign a release before they receive severance pay?

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in Firing,Human Resources

Q. Under our company policy, employees who are terminated because of a reduction in force are entitled to severance pay. Can we require them to execute a release in order to receive severance pay?

A. Yes, if the policy specifically states that employees must execute a release in order to receive severance pay, then you can—and should—require employees to do so.

If your policy does not expressly require a release or is silent on the issue, then any release you obtain may be unenforceable for lack of consideration. In that case, in order to obtain an enforceable release, you’d have to offer something in addition to severance pay to which they are already entitled under your company’s policy.

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