In an article published in today's National Post, it was reported that the Toronto Star has asked 100 union and non union employees to consider voluntary severance packages as the newspaper explores contracting out what could amount to more than 100 jobs.
Voluntary severance packages are essentially an agreement that the employee will agree to his or her termination "without cause" in exchange for an offer of severance, which has usually been made to the employee in advance. Employees who are interested in the voluntary packages will usually then "apply" for acceptance for the package and if eligible (with eligibility set by the employer) the employee will be made a formal offer of severance.
The difference between voluntary and non voluntary severance packages are that the employees who are offered voluntary packages are not required to accept the offer. That is, they can reject the offer and continue to work as before.
In the current economy many employers have turned to cost cutting measures such as voluntary severance, temporary layoffs, reduced work weeks or hours, temporary pay cuts or large scale restructuring.
Daniel A. Lublin is a partner with Whitten & Lublin LLP, which provides employees and employers with human resources advocacy and representation.