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If your employment isn’t working out, an employer may offer what is known as a settlement agreement which is a sum of money in return for your employment rights – i.e. you cannot then bring a claim in the employment tribunal.
HAVE YOU BEEN ASKED TO SIGN AN EMPLOYEE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT?
These days we are faced with ongoing economic problems and there seems to be a steady trend toward people facing redundancy, severance and loss of work.
If you find yourself in this position, it is an experience that can leave you feeling the financial pressures and it can cause a great deal of stress. Shock is not an uncommon reaction to the loss of a job, but before you become overwhelmed, you should consider your legal position.
If you’ve been made redundant or let go from your job, then you need to consider getting expert advice and the sooner the better. We can help you with understanding what Settlement Agreements (formerly known as a Compromise Agreement) are all about before you are to sign one. It is effectively an agreement outlining any compensation or redundancy payout you’ll be receiving. It is also a binding agreement that will prevent you from taking further action following the termination of your employment, such as going to an employment tribunal. Given the nature of this document, it is important you get expert advice before you sign it so that you’re not legally bound by a situation that is less than satisfactory.
WHY YOU MUST GET SPECIALIST LEGAL ADVICE BEFORE ACCEPTING A SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
Making use of a legal Settlement Agreement (formerly known as a Compromise Agreement) during a redundancy has been used in severance situations in the past, and the major reason for using one is to clarify exactly what the employee would receive and to impose limitations on pursuing further legal action, as well as in situations where the employer may wish to limit the former employees options to work with competitors.
While many employers are using these agreements with the best of intentions, the fact that they prevent further action being taken makes it possible that other less scrupulous employers could use it to prevent employees from receiving their full entitlement.
A Settlement Agreement (formerly known as a Compromise Agreement) is an agreement that when used correctly prevents employees from taking action against an employer, however to be valid, the agreement must be in writing, it should agree only with the process of termination of employment and you must be given the opportunity to seek independent legal advice before signing the legal document.
Without this agreement in place, an employee who has been dismissed in a manner that doesn’t comply with the law will have the opportunity to have their case heard before the employment tribunal. If the case goes in the employees favour, that could mean they are compensated or even reinstated into their position.
By asking the employee to waive that right and sign the legal Settlement Agreement (formerly known as a Compromise Agreement), the employee cannot go to the tribunal, as they have signed an agreement that prevents them from doing so. Therefore, if you have been made redundant, you should ensure that you are completely satisfied with the ‘full package’ before you sign the agreement.
WHAT ABOUT PAYING LEGAL COSTS?
Don’t worry. Virtually every Settlement Agreement (formerly known as a Compromise Agreement) provides that your employers pay your legal costs direct. So long as you eventually sign the Settlement Agreement (formerly known as a Compromise Agreement) then you don’t have to pay anything towards your legal costs.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I AM UNHAPPY WITH A SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT?
If you’re not happy with the deal that you’ve been offered, it is possible to renegotiate and often employers will do this if a satisfactory Settlement Agreement (formerly known as a Compromise Agreement) can be reached by both parties without having to go to a tribunal. With support from a specialist in employment law, there are people who successfully negotiate upwards when arranging their payout. Alternatively, if an employer hasn’t offered a legal Settlement Agreement (formerly known as a Compromise Agreement), you may wish to ask for one to maximise the benefits you receive as part of your redundancy or severance package.
In an instance where you’re not happy with the agreement, you are under no obligation to sign it. If your employer is unwilling to negotiate, then you may find that the alternative of not signing is your best option. In this situation, you have the option to take the employer to the tribunal and where a decision will be made regarding your claim. This is likely to take into consideration your role, the time you’ve spent with the employer and the circumstances of your severance or redundancy.
The main thing to be aware of if you’re in this situation is that if you’ve been offered an redundancy package above the minimum payout amount, then you may jeopardize that as it is possible that after going to the tribunal you’ll only receive the minimum amount the employer is obliged to pay.
SPECIALIST ADVICE IS A MUST BEFORE YOU SIGN ANYTHING
If you have been made redundant and asked to sign a legal Settlement Agreement (formerly known as a Compromise Agreement), then speaking with a specialist in employment law is a must. A professional can review your agreement and will speak with you about what you need to do and whether the agreement provides you everything that you are entitled.
If the employer hasn’t initiated a Settlement Agreement (formerly known as a Compromise Agreement), a solicitor will be able to advise if this is the most appropriate path to take. A compromise agreement will often be the most suitable option as it is more straightforward than going to the tribunal, which in a legitimate redundancy or severance makes it a better choice. The agreement is a binding one, so if you do have any doubts, then make sure you speak with a solicitor and don’t feel pressured into signing the agreement before you’re ready.
TALK TO SEATONS ABOUT YOUR LEGAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
Redundancy is probably already placing you under a lot of pressure, but you can eliminate the stress of the agreement by contacting us to discuss how we can help. We’ll be able to review your agreement and offer advice on the situation and what your entitlements are. If you’re an employer is offering the right entitlements, then we’ll tell you, if you want to negotiate, we can help – and if you feel that the agreement is not in order, then we’ll give you guidance on the best way forward.
It doesn’t matter what your field of work or what level you’re employed at – you have the right to a suitable severance or redundancy package. If you’re a high powered corporate whizz or your work in a small to medium business – we can support you to ensure that you receive what is rightfully yours.
GET SPECIALIST LEGAL ADVICE
Getting advice from experienced employment solicitors such as ourselves will help ensure that:
• You receive the entitlement you deserve
• You are not signing over your right of appeal if you’re less than satisfied with the settlement
• You’re not going to miss out on the package you deserve
• You’ll have an alternative route to finding a satisfactory resolution without having to go to an employment tribunal
• You will be able to make a decision about signing the Settlement Agreement (formerly known as a Compromise Agreement) with confidence after speaking to a solicitor
• You’ll be able to ensure that your severance or redundancy is carried out in a legally binding way, so that both you and your employer are fully aware of any rights or obligations
• You’ll be confident after speaking to a professional that your rights, entitlements are protected and that you’re receiving an appropriate level of compensation.
If you’re unsure whether we can provide you with the help you need, or if you are worried about costs, missing out on entitlements or anything else about redundancy, then get in touch today. You don’t have to be rushed into a decision and a solicitor can advise you on the best course of action for your individual situation.
FIND OUT MORE
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Please call us for a no obligation chat at one of our offices Corby 01536 276300 or Kettering 01536 311690.