A global survey has found that most termination and severance packages for senior executives fall well short of the fabulous payouts that some corporate high-fliers are reported to have received in recent years. Most companies adopt a limit of four or fewer weeks of severance pay for each year of service for their top executives, according to the survey conducted by global career transition and organisational consulting firm Right Management Consultants. Though this varies across different countries, only 44 per cent of the Hong Kong firms that responded to the survey gave one month or more per year of service to departing executives. The survey findings show that termination practices are primarily governed and shaped by the local ordinance. However, companies also have the discretion to shape their termination practices. In Hong Kong, 60 per cent of the respondent firms said a combination of local law and company practice governed the policies. In general, corporations in Australia and Japan are more generous on severance issues than other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the survey found. Singapore corporations are only slightly more generous than Hong Kong corporations. The consultants questioned 1,500 companies in 32 countries on their policies and practices regarding severance pay. The industries these companies represented were mining/manufacturing/refining, banking/financial services, information technology, pharmaceutical/healthcare products and research, energy, telecommunications and utilities, as well as aerospace/air travel. 'This survey is the first we have conducted throughout the world. We collected and presented a worldwide comparative data on termination issues and different company practices,' Right Management Consultants Greater China director Stephen Lazar says. In the Asia-Pacific region, 287 corporations responded to the survey, of which more than two-thirds were from Australia and Japan and about a third were from Hong Kong and Singapore. In addition to severance perks, 77 per cent of the corporations that responded offer support and assistance, such as outplacement services, to executives during their career transition. 'Ten years ago, outplacement services were more targeted to top level executives. However, nowadays, the service is extended to all levels of staff, to secretaries, administrators or even drivers,' Mr Lazar says. The scope of these services can range from as little as holding a training workshop to update executives' skills in re-entering the marketplace, to providing an office and administrative support during their job search. Under some exclusive offers, top executives continue to receive medical benefits, life insurance, financial planning assistance, stock/ share plans, retirement planning or bonus/incentive plans. This comprehensive termination practice is part of an employer's brand. Corporations are known to use termination and severance practices to differentiate themselves when trying to attract and retain top talent. 'This is a subtle and significant exercise to tell employees who are staying with the organisation that it cares, as well as a means to attract top new talent,' says Mr Lazar.