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Did I make a mistake by taking a "voluntary severance package" ?


Hi Chris,

A few weeks ago the entire staff of about 300 received an email informing us that the company was implementing a two phase Workforce Reduction Plan.
Phase I: Voluntary Severance Package (VSP) available to entire staff.
Phase II: Layoffs the following Friday with reduced severance.(if enough didn't take VSP).
Later that afternoon, I along with 28 other employee received an email with instructions on how to apply for VSP. The list included the highest-salary, long-term employees, from about 10 to 33 years with the company.
It appeared that I along with the other 28 employees were being targeted for lay-off, so I agreed to the VSP. I felt like it was anything but voluntary.

Will agreeing to take the VSP cause my UI claim to be denied? I have a phone interview with California EDD next Friday. Two others who took the VSP have already had their claims denied after the phone interview.

Is there information I could provide to help my case. Or would you recommend a coach? My position has not been replaced. Thank you.


I'm not one to think of accepting a voluntary separation package as a mistake, but rather, a personal preference that may become regrettable, dependent on a successful job search.

The state a VSP happens in can also matter. as can the reason for accepting one. It might be disqualifying depending on who the employer is and if there are conditions that make it voluntary, or actually forced.

So I'm glad you mention it's the California EDD in control because they have a good benefit determination guide and a whole section on voluntary quits in lieu of Severance Pay, Dismissal or Separation Pay

It's not the first time I've been asked about this after the quit has taken place, but I'm guessing I tucked most Q&As in under California Unemployment Questions.

Your advantage is California provides explanatory information as to when severance pay is not wages for unemployment insurance purposes.

The UIBDG (at the first link) really is a necessary read for you to determine whether your package and circumstances for accepting are disqualifying, or the exception to the rule about quits.

Comments for Did I make a mistake by taking a "voluntary severance package" ?

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Jul 14, 2014
Proving good cause
by: Shannon

Thanks. It sounds like it would depend of proving that I had "good cause" to leave voluntary, or I can prove it was a mutual agreement to separate. The company is saying it was not mutual, that I signed an agreement that said the separation was voluntary. Here's what the links you sent said: "Once the claimant's reasons for leaving are determined, the interviewer must apply a three part test to determine the presence of "good cause" as indicated by the regulations quoted above: (1) Is the reason for leaving "real, substantial, and compelling"? (2) Would that reason cause a "reasonable person," genuinely desirous of working, to leave work under the same circumstances? (3) Did the claimant fail to attempt to preserve the employment relationship, thereby negating any "good cause" he/she might have had in leaving?

Is the reason for leaving "real, substantial, and compelling"?" The initial email said that if enough people didn't take severance there would be layoffs the following Friday with a much smaller severance package. About 3pm the same day, I received an email that listed myself and 28 other employees with instructions on how to submit for severance. All of the people on the list were long-time employees with 10-33years with the company. Most were in their 50-60s. This appeared to be a list of people targeted for layoff if we did not accept the offer to voluntarily quit.

Yes, but you also have that email from the employer which sort of added some encouragement to do what they wanted you to do.

All the stuff that influences the choice to quit can matter more than the fact you quit, which isn't in dispute.

It why you quit and if that reason can be attributable to the employer when view through the eyes of a similar reasonable person finding themselves in the position you were having to deal with.

I sincerely doubt the employer would offer up that email sent to twenty eight out three hundred employees as evidence they sort of tried to influence your decision.

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