Seven tips for evaluating a buyout offer
Read the fine print. Find out exactly what you're signing. "Make sure that you have an attorney review the agreement with you, and make sure that you're not releasing important legal rights," says Patrick J. Boyd, partner and founder of the Boyd Law Group in New York. Employees are often asked to release virtually every right they have to sue the company for discrimination, back wages, overtime, and commissions, Boyd says. Employees can sometimes individually negotiate the terms, although unions usually have a delegate who represents them. You may also be asked to agree not to work for a competitor, not to solicit customers from the company, and to give up the right to work there ever again.
Don't forget healthcare. As health costs continue to rise, companies increasingly don't offer medical benefits as part of a buyout. Look into how soon you will be able to get health coverage at a new job and whether your spouse has a health plan that could cover you. Consider COBRA [www.dol.gov] benefits to bridge any gaps. You don't want your coverage to lapse during an already stressful time.