What if the company cut your salary before firing you?
"Hey Bill, you've had your salary reduced to minimum wage, but don't worry, we're firing you!"
Non-compete for 1 year price: ~$8,000
Or even better:
"Hey bill, we'll give you severance pay of $X, but you have to sign these papers..."
Included in that pile is an agreement to take a lower base salary for your last pay check, which is then used for non-compete salary calculations.
This. You totally nailed it. My previous employer was a company I don't wish to name because frankly, I don't want to give them any publicity. Few have heard of their North American office, who I worked for, and I'd like to keep it that way. During my final year or two there (not sure of the exact time) they forced us to sign a form that went to HR that said that if they laid us off, they agreed to pay us one month's severance pay for each 2 years we worked there but there was a huge catch. Until your severance period ran out (for example, if you worked there 8 years you'd get 4 months pay and your severance period was 4 months) they could hire you back at any time and they had to right to do so at a loss in pay to you, potentially as much as 20% less. If you refused the new job offer, you had to refund your remaining severance pay. If you accepted the new offer, you also had to refund the remaining severance pay. So with my example if you got 4 months of severance pay but 1 month into it they offered you a new job at 80% of your old pay, you had to return 3 months of severance to them whether you took the job or not. And you agreed that they could assign you to a work place as far as 45 miles from the previous work location. And if we didn't agree to those terms, we could quit on the spot with no severance. Yes, of course we could sue over it, but that costs money and time and there's no guarantee. We had a lawyer here some years ago tell people that he advised everybody not to sue an employer because the suits were so hard to win even when the employee was in the right. That company laid off a lot of people and then hired them back within 2-4 weeks for basically the same job. I don't know if they cut their salaries or not. The people who I knew that this happened to wouldn't talk about it. So it was a really sneaky way to get out of paying full severance. If you owe John Doe 6 months of severance, lay him off, hire him back after 2 weeks and then get 5 and a half months of the severance back, maybe hire him at reduced pay too, and bam! His employment clock now starts at zero and if you lay him off after one month, you owe him nothing in severance because he hasn't worked there 2 years since he was re-hired. Yeah, it was pretty bad. I was owed a pretty good chunk of change in severance when they announced layoffs in my department some months in advance of them happening and I quickly found a new job with another company. I gave up the severance (the deal was, if you left before you got laid off, you got nothing) but I figured that they were going to probably try to screw me out of it anyway by laying me off and offering me a new job after a month or so and I just wanted out and on the new job clear and free.