What Workers Who Face Layoffs Should Know if Offered a Buyout

Headshot of Ana Teresa Sola.
Ana Teresa Sola

Microsoft joined a list of big tech companies that announced major layoffs at the start of 2024.

The technology company plans to cut about 9% its Gaming Unit headcount, amounting to 1,900 laid off workers, according to a memo obtained by CNBC.

Earlier this weekEBay said it plans to let go 1,000 employees, or 9% of the company’s staff. These announcements join a flurry of layoffs from tech behemoths like Amazon and Google.

Amazon let go of 30 employees in its Buy with Prime unit while Google has more job cuts slated for the year after paring its headcount of central engineer and hardware workers.

Meanwhile, SAP, the German software company, plans to offer job changes or voluntary buyouts for 8,000 employees as part of its restructuring program for 2024.  

With all these recent layoffs, if you find your company aims to carry out voluntary buyouts, there are a few things to consider before you accept.

Buyout Regret and What to Consider

“Buyout regret is real,” said Suzy Welch, a career expert and CNBC contributor. “People take them in the moment. They think, ‘The money’s good, and ‘Non-voluntary layoffs are going to be next.’”

If you ever receive a buyout deal, first assess the value of the financial package.

“How many months of severance pay will you get? Will you have health coverage and for how long? How will your retirement benefits be affected?” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter.

Afterwards, see if there’s room for negotiation, experts say. For example, explore options to work fewer hours or find ways to boost your buyout deal, they advise.

“Management is not expecting 100% acceptance.” Welch said. “Maybe a deal can be struck for different [or] less work so you can keep doing what you love.”

Ask if you can stay in your job under different leadership or on a different team, Pollak added.

If not, seek an additional month or two of severance pay based on your performance and tenure, or an extra six months of health insurance coverage, she said.

“These kinds of improvements can be worth a great deal of money and have a large effect on your financial situation during your job search,” Pollak said. “Try to negotiate a departure on the best possible terms, with the longest possible benefits coverage and severance pay, or largest possible lump sum payout.”

The worst possible outcome is if the only alternative to the buyout is being involuntarily terminated without the benefits, Pollak explained.

“Always make sure you get a written letter of recommendation and not the promise of one before signing the dotted line,” Welch said.

This blog originally appeared at CNBC on January 25, 2024.

About the Author: Ana Teresa Sola is a personal finance reporter with CNBC. 

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.