In this article, we’re going to assume that you already have a fair idea of what a Settlement Agreement is – if not, then click here to find out more.
If you are determined to part ways with your employer, and you think that a Settlement Agreement is going to be your best option, your first step is to gauge the strength of your negotiating position. By far the most reliable way to do this is with professional legal advice. This might only need to be a half-hour meeting with a competent lawyer, but it is a vital step. At Truth Legal, we offer new clients a free, hour-long first meeting with no obligations: we believe very strongly that you as a client should know where you stand right from the start of the process.
Next, you need to know if you have any potential claims against your employer, the merits of those claims, and what their possible value might be. In general terms, the higher your salary, the more a claim is likely to be worth. Similarly, the longer you have worked for your employer, the more difficult it will be for them to fire you, and the more valuable your claim is likely to be. In addition, if you have been poorly treated because you have blown the whistle, or discriminated against in any way, then the value of any claim you make will be higher.
You need to consider how you can finance any legal fees. You might have access to trade union funding. Your buildings and contents insurance may include legal expenses insurance that will cover an employment claim (many people overlook this option). You may be able to find representation on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. Or you might be able to gather the money to pay the legal bill yourself. At Truth Legal, we try to be as supportive and as flexible as possible when it comes to advising clients about payment – we are also much more affordable than many law firms with similar expertise and experience.
You need to consider your employer’s position. Think about the personalities and attitudes of the decision makers who will handle your Agreement. Will they be frightened by a claim, or will they fight all claims in order to discourage other employees from making their own? What is the financial position of your employer? Can they afford to pay you off, or do they have little money in reserve? Are they insured against employment tribunal claims? If they are, it is likely to be more difficult to negotiate a Settlement Agreement. All of these factors combine to give you an impression of how far you can push your employer, and make your options clearer.
We would next ask how you are regarded at work. Have you been recently disciplined, or are you the rainmaker? There are lots of factors at work here, of course, but, in general, the sort of employees who give their managers sleepless nights do get Settlement Agreements.
You also need to consider what restrictions there are in your employment contract. If there are no restrictions, or only a few, in your contract (or they are unenforceable) and your employer is likely to want to restrict what you do when you leave, then your negotiating position improves.
Think about what happens after you have left your current employer. How easy will it be for you to find another job? What will your next salary likely be? How quickly will you be able to start another job? Will you need a reference for your next employer? Think about what you might need your reference to say, and whether your current employer can give you a reference without exposing them to a claim by a future employer.
We know that seems like a lot to consider, but Settlement Agreements can be complicated, and tricky to negotiate. We at Truth Legal would want to sit down with you and go over all of the above and anything else that might be relevant, so it’s probably best to think these things through before the first meeting.
Once you have done that, give us a call!