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At-will employees rarely receive severance pay upon their termination. Unless fired for cause, though, eligible, terminated at-will employees should receive unemployment compensation benefits.

Employers can offer a Severance Pay Plan as an employee benefit, but most do not.

Employers can voluntarily pay severance to employees, and some used to do it.

If the employer demands a general release of rights (i.e., a promise not to sue) in exchange for severance, that converts an offer of severance into a negotiated severance payment by agreement.

Each state administers its own unemployment compensation program.Unemployment compensation benefits, which are also known as unemployment insurance, are not, technically, a form of severance pay.Rather, the federal government created unemployment compensation programs as a statutory benefit in 1935.Taxes on employers fund unemployment compensation benefits and each state administers. For at-will employees, unemployment compensation benefits fill a function similar to severance pay, providing cash when needed most.Employers can offer employees severance pay benefits in the event of certain job losses, like from a reduction in force.

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