If you have been invited, by your employer, to attend a Protected Conversation, such an invite can be nerve-wrecking to receive. This blog is to help you understand what a Protected Conversation is, how to prepare, how it should be conducted and what it may signify happens next.
What Is A Protected Conversation?
Generally speaking, this meeting is a discussion between an employer and employee to negotiate bringing an end to the employee’s employment. The meeting is ‘off the record’ and it cannot be openly referred to.
What Makes The Meeting ‘Off The Record’?
It must be communicated to you that it is a Protected Conversation. Normally, this would be referred to when you are invited to the meeting and you will see reference to Section 111A of the Employment Rights Act 1996. However, you may find that you do not receive prior warning and you are simply asked to intend an impromptu meeting, where you are then informed the purpose of it is to have a Protected Conversation.
Whilst these meetings cannot usually be referred to in subsequent Employment Tribunal Claims, such meetings do still have limitations. For example, an employee can refer to comments made during a Protected Conversation in discrimination claims, or if the Protected Conversation has been conducted with ‘improper behaviour’. Such examples of ‘improper behaviour’ would be bullying or harassment, discrimination or undue pressure.
How To Respond In A Protected Conversation?
This will depend on your situation, what the situation is and whether you received prior warning that this meeting is going to take place. If, for example, you received no prior notice then it may be that you say little and simply take notes of what your employer is saying to you. Alternatively, if you know the meeting is to discuss a long running dispute with your employer, it would be helpful to obtain legal advice prior to the appointment to get a good idea of what, if any, Employment Law claims are available to you, and the likely value of those claims.
What Happens After The Protected Conversation?
It may be that you enter into negotiations with your employer regarding compensation payable for your employment terminating, or your employer may have already produced a Settlement Agreement for you to obtain legal advice on.
What Is A Settlement Agreement?
Settlement Agreements are legally binding contracts which are used to resolve ongoing workplace issues or to terminate an employment relationship. They are voluntary and neither party has to enter into them. They also tend to include some form of payment to the employee. There are specific conditions which must also be included within Settlement Agreements to ensure they are legally compliant. A Settlement Agreement must adhere to the following conditions:-
- The agreement must be in writing.
- The agreement must relate to a particular complaint or proceedings.
- The employee must have received advice from a relevant independent adviser, such as a solicitor.
- The independent adviser must have a current contract of insurance or professional indemnity covering the risk of a claim by the employee in respect of loss arising from the advice.
- The agreement must identify the adviser.
- The agreement must state that the applicable statutory conditions regulating the settlement agreement have been met.
What To Do If You Receive A Settlement Agreement?
If you receive one, we can help you. We will arrange a meeting with you and during that meeting we will:-
- We will take a detailed background to the situation.
- We will advise you on any potential claims you may have.
- If we identify a potential claim, we will estimate the value of that claim.
- If a claim is identified, we cross reference the value to your Termination Payment and advise you on the amount you are being offered. If we consider that the Termination Payment is not sufficient compensation for the termination of your employment/waiving your Employment Tribunal Claims, then we will ask you if you would like us to renegotiate the terms on your behalf.
- We go through the specific clauses of the Settlement Agreement and advise you on their meaning.
How Can Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Help You?
If you have received a Settlement Agreement, or you have been invited to a Protected Conversation and wish to speak to an Employment Solicitor before attending, please give us a call on 01522 440512 for a free, no obligation chat. Alternatively, you can learn more about Settlement Agreements by visiting our webpage here; Settlement Agreement – LincsLaw Employment Law Solicitors – In Lincoln.