Settlement Agreements – The Importance of Independent Legal Advice
I recently assisted a lovely client with her Settlement Agreement. She came to me with an agreement her Union had negotiated, but as we went through it, I wasn’t happy with the terms she was being offered. Read on for more information.
My Client’s Story
My client had been in dispute with her employer for a long time which had involved a number of grievances and, in fact, at one stage her employer tried to begin disciplinary action against her. She had been assisted by her Union throughout. Just before her disciplinary meeting, her Union had negotiated a termination package for her to leave her employment.
My client was told that she would need to sign a Settlement Agreement. This is a type of contract in which an employee will waive and settle all rights and claims they have against their employer in exchange, usually, for a compensatory payment. Therefore, once the Settlement Agreement was signed, my client would no longer be able to bring a claim against her employer and, also, would not be able to continue to pursue her Grievances.
My client had been advised by the Union to sign the Settlement Agreement as drafted. However, she was not totally comfortable with the settlement payment that had been agreed or some of the wider clauses within the Settlement Agreement itself.
At Our First Consultation
My client’s friend suggested she contact me to discuss the situation. I booked her in for a Fixed Fee Consultation and went through the background of her situation with her. I identified a number of claims I believed she had. I also gave her an estimate of the value of those claims. Having undertaken that assessment, it was clear the settlement payment did not reflect the seriousness of her situation.
My client instructed that she felt under pressure to sign. I advised that, of course, it was entirely her choice whether or not she signed the Settlement Agreement. I fully understand that there are many factors which affect whether a client wishes to bring their dispute with their employer to an end. Often, those factors include their family life, the toll the whole situation is having on their health and their decision that they want to move on from their employer. All of which has very little to do with the Employment Tribunal Claims they may have. These are very personal choices to make, but I am always anxious that my clients make those choices from an informed position.
Such was the situation with my client. We discussed that she did not feel she had, in her words, ‘any more fight’. She had told her Union that she just wanted to bring matters to an end. However, she had not fully appreciated by how much she was underselling her Employment Tribunal claims.
Renegotiating the Settlement Agreement
My client instructed me to reopen negotiations with her employer. Initially they were resistant as they believed a deal had been done with her Union. However, after a few letters, we were able to achieve a revised Settlement Agreement that my client was happy with.
Our efforts resulted in an increase in her compensatory termination payment of over 50%, additional notice pay and recalculated (and increased) accrued holiday pay. Also, the removal of a number of restrictive covenants which would have prevented her seeking employment with competitors of her previous employer.
My client was delighted and thanked me for helping her through such a difficult time. I was very pleased I was able to help and pleased we were able to achieve a settlement which better reflected her potential Employment Tribunal Claims and the difficulties she had experienced with her employer.
Can Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Help You?
If you are having difficulties at work, please call 01522 440412 for a free, no obligation discussion about your situation. For more information about Lincs Law Employment Solicitors and how we help people who have been given a Settlement Agreement, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/settlement-agreement/
Sally Hubbard, Specialist Employment Law Solicitor
Lincs Law Solicitors, Lincoln