Bad Economy Turning Employment Agreement Practice into Severance Agreement Practice

One of the staples of practicing HR Law is reviewing and drafting employment agreements for employees and employers.  Another is reviewing or drafting separation or severance agreements.  As a result, the primary way I gage how the economy is doing is by looking at whether I'm doing more employment agreements or severance agreements.  Care to take a guess at which way the tide has been shifting over the last six months?

One of the first areas you see such a shift is in personal luxury services, such as housekeeping and nanny services.  I was just commenting earlier this week to another lawyer that my nanny employment agreement business has all but been replaced by work drafting severance agreements.  Work reviewing these documents for employees is especially somber because I know that these people (often single mothers) have no place to go when they lose their job.

Turns out I'm not the only one to have noticed this trend.  Today's Wall Street Journal has a sad article covering the same trend.  Especially poignant is the human angle to the article.  These workers often become de facto members of the family that the family, especially the children, get emotionally attached to.  One family that hired me to draft a generous severance package for the housekeeper they were being forced to lay off told me it felt like they were "firing their aunt."  

Here's a snippit from the WSJ article:

 

'Second Mom'

A stay-at-home mother whose husband is a litigation attorney, Mrs. Sirof says that Ms. Monterrosa was a "second mom to my kids." Ms. Monterrosa was there when she suffered a bout of depression and when she went on spa trips or outings to get Botox and Juvéderm injections, says Mrs. Sirof.

But a few months ago, the family decided they couldn't afford Ms. Monterrosa anymore and let her go.

Mrs. Sirof's daughters took the separation badly. They inquired incessantly about "Vita," as they called her. Normally a lively child, daughter Addie became sad and withdrawn. A doctor Mrs. Sirof consulted suggested renewed contact with Ms. Monterrosa.

. . . "I can't afford to buy my own children shoes," Ms. Monterrosa says, wringing her hands.

 

Yep, it's going to be difficult to get in the Christmas spirit this year.  I can tell.

 

Source For Quote: Wall Street Journal