Severance and Unemployment Benefits

severance-pay-unemployment-benefitsMany employee who are about to be laid off are concerned about accepting the offered severance package, as they fear that accepting a significant lump sum severance from their employer will disqualify them from unemployment benefits.

However, the good news for employees is that under California law, severance pay is not grounds for disqualification for unemployment insurance benefits. One court held that dismissal and severance pay received by employees from employer upon termination of employment was not “wages” for unemployment compensation purposes within provision of ยง 1265 that payments under plan established by employer for purpose of supplementing unemployment compensation benefit shall not be construed to be “wages”, and benefits shall not be denied because of receipt of payments under such plans. Powell v. California Dept. of Employment (1965) 45 Cal.Rptr. 136.