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Here is one of the first things new clients tell me during an initial consultation: “I’ve just been fired, and they’ve given me a deadline of [insert very tight deadline here] to accept a severance offer”.

My response? That deadline is totally artificial. In other words, the deadline has been imposed on you to try to pressure you to accept the employer’s offer (which may not be a good one) by a certain date. It is important, however, to remember two things when faced with this type of artificial deadline. First, you can ask for an extension. You can and should take the time you need to consider the termination offer, including seeking legal advice and determining whether the offer is fair. This can be done by simply sending an e-mail to your former employer.

Second, you can almost always re-table an offer that was made at termination, even if the offer has expired. Practically speaking, if your former employer was willing to make a certain offer upon termination, why wouldn’t they re-table that offer at a later point and avoid a drawn-out dispute? Technically, once the offer expires, it is “off the table” and no longer available for you to accept. However, in practice, re-tabling expired offers is done all the time.

Losing your job is already stressful. Slowing the process down and making sure you have enough time to meaningfully consider a termination offer – and make an informed decision – is crucial.

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This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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