Get the most out of your settlement agreement
Employers and employees often use legally binding contracts known as settlement agreements to resolve workplace disputes or simply to record the terms of an amicable parting of ways. At Smith Partnership, our dedicated employment team advises employees on every aspect of the settlement process, ensuring they enter settlement agreement negotiations from a position of strength.
To find out how our employment team can help you get the most out of your settlement agreement, get in touch with us today.
What is an Employment Settlement Agreement?
Settlement agreements – formerly known as compromise agreements – are used to deal with exits that occur for a number of reasons, including redundancies, ill health, performance issues, conduct and more.
For the employer, they guarantee that no claims will be brought by the employee, and for the employee, they deliver a guaranteed result that often includes a tax-free compensation payment, lump sum payment of notice pay and an agreed reference for prospective new employers.
The terms of a settlement agreement are legally binding once they are signed, and will normally provide for:
- Any payments that are to be made to the employee upon the termination of employment e.g. redundancy pay, notice pay and compensation
- Outstanding benefits owed to the employee, such as salary and holiday pay
- A confidentiality or non-disclosure clause
- A job reference that will help the employee find employment elsewhere
- A contribution towards the legal costs incurred by the employee
As the terms of a settlement agreement can have significant implications for the parties involved, it is a legal requirement for employees to seek independent legal advice prior to signing one.
Employers will almost always make a financial contribution towards the cost of you taking legal advice or pay for the entire fee. Settlement agreements that are signed without the employee having done so are not legally binding and cannot be enforced for that reason.
When Is a Settlement Agreement Valid?
For a settlement agreement to be considered valid, it must meet the following conditions:
- The agreement must be in written form
- The employee must seek legal advice from a qualified professional
- The agreement must specify the adviser
- The agreement should relate to a specific complaint or proceedings
- Independent advisers should hold a valid contract of insurance or professional indemnity
- The agreement should state that the applicable statutory conditions that regulate it have been met
If the agreement fails to meet any of the above conditions, or if the two parties fail to come to a resolution, the settlement agreement will not be enforceable and employees may potentially still pursue claims against their employer through the employment tribunal.
Are There Any Time Constraints?
The ACAS Code of Practice states that employees should be given a reasonable amount of time to fully consider the terms set out in the agreement. In most cases, employees must be given 10 calendar days to consider the agreement and take legal advice. Consequently, it’s important to take action as soon as possible in the case that you’re offered a settlement agreement.
The team at Smith Partnership recognise the importance of speaking to a legal professional quickly. For this reason, we offer a dedicated team of employment experts who are available to advise you on short notice – often within the space of just one working day.
What are the Legal Costs?
Given the fact that settlement agreements require the employee to speak to a legal expert in order to be valid, employees will often be concerned with the legal costs associated with taking the advice. Taking a client-focused approach throughout the process, our employment law solicitors do everything in their power to minimise any costs incurred on the employee’s part.
We always aim to keep legal costs within the boundaries set by your employer’s contribution. In cases where this isn’t possible, we will seek to negotiate an increase in the contribution made on the part of your employer.
How We Can Help You
If you have been offered a settlement agreement by your employer, our expert settlement agreement solicitors can help you get the most out of the negotiation process.
Our mission is to ensure that our clients achieve the best possible result when offered a settlement agreement or when facing issues relating to their employment. Our services include:
- Advising on the strengths and weaknesses of your case
- Advising on its potential value
- Negotiating with your employer directly or assisting you in conducting negotiations
- Reviewing, amending and completing your settlement agreement
- Representation at courts and employment tribunals, when settlement is not achieved
Building upon an extensive track record of success in this area, our employment solicitors are able to offer practical legal advice that helps you achieve the result you’re looking for. Smith Partnership’s employment lawyers can review your settlement agreement with you and very often help to negotiate much more favourable terms.
From securing extra compensation to obtaining the most favourable terms of leaving your employment, we are commercial and pragmatic negotiators who do not like to see employees being short-changed. For this reason, we will fight your corner to ensure the final agreement is in your best interests.
The specific objectives of settlement agreement negotiations may vary from person to person. For example, you may want to secure higher settlement payments or want to be released from post-termination restrictions (restrictive covenants). Drawing on our extensive experience, we work with you to establish your ideal outcome and advise on the appropriate strategy for achieving it.
More often than not, we will raise points for negotiation that have never been considered by our clients. Having acted for employees with regards to thousands of settlement agreements over the years, we can deliver a better deal in the vast majority of cases.