This needn’t be complex. So we’ll keep it clear-cut
Ideally, your relationship with your employer should be plain sailing. But as life isn’t always that easy, we’ll be ready to support you with reassuringly uncomplicated advice.
We can guide you through aspects such as unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal, settlement agreements, redundancy, discrimination and disciplinary and grievance issues. Our specialist employment and HR lawyers will explain everything you want to know, to help you feel confident and empowered as an employee.
If you are an employer and need guidance, click here.
Advice on redundancy & settlement agreements for employees
Being made redundant
We understand being made redundant can be emotionally and financially challenging. If there isn’t a genuine reason for your redundancy or your employer did not follow a fair procedure, you may have a potential claim.
We recommend you ask us for advice on how best to proceed but if you would like further information, head to the Government's website by clicking here.
Being asked to sign a settlement (compromise) agreement
If your employment relationship has broken down, you may be asked to a settlement agreement. This is a legally binding agreement where your employer usually agrees to pay you a lump sum in return for you agreeing to waive your rights to pursue a legal claim. Again, ask our advice first, as you’re effectively signing away your rights to claim for unfair dismissal.
We will clearly explain the situation and your options, giving you advice on:
- Whether you could claim against your employer and whether the settlement agreement provides appropriate compensation
- What claims you are promising to waive
- If you’d be subject to any future restrictions such as ‘restraint of trade’ obligations
- What you can and can’t disclose to other people about the settlement agreement.
Your employer will usually contribute towards your legal fees (though they don’t have to). When there’s no argument about the settlement, their contribution will usually be enough to cover the whole legal bill. Please note that while they may be paying our invoice, your employer is not connected with us and we are acting solely in your best interests.
We will aim to reduce the stress as much as possible by negotiating with your employer on your behalf where necessary, to ensure you receive the best outcome possible.
Frequently asked questions on settlement agreements for employees:
- Why am I being asked to sign a Settlement Agreement?
If you’re being made redundant, or are leaving your employment for another reason, your employer may offer a Settlement Agreement in return for you agreeing to waive all your statutory rights against them. A Settlement Agreement is a legally binding document. If you sign it, it means you agree not to pursue any claim against your employer in a Court or Employment Tribunal.
- Why am I being asked to see a solicitor?
A Settlement Agreement is only legally binding if you have taken advice from an independent solicitor (or other suitably qualified person) on its terms and effects, particularly your ability to pursue your rights before an Employment Tribunal. We will need to understand your individual circumstances, so we can advise you how the Agreement will impact you. We’ll clarify all the legal terms and their implications before you sign.
- Can I negotiate the terms of my Settlement Agreement?
Usually, yes. However, it depends on your circumstances, so this is something we would discuss with you. We’ll tell you whether the terms are fair and explain the implications if you want to negotiate any improvements.
- How much will it cost me?
Usually your employer contributes towards your legal fees, and this may cover the whole cost of our meeting, depending on your circumstances and how much they contribute. If your circumstances are complicated, the contribution may not cover the cost, in which case we’ll explain what they are likely to be and the different options that are available.
- Do I have to accept the Agreement?
You are under no obligation to sign the agreement, but if you don’t you may not get the benefits it offers. We’ll explain this in more detail.
- What information do I need to provide?
We’ll ask for information about such things as your length of service, your salary and other benefits you receive, your notice period and the background to the situation.
Please let us have a copy of your contract of employment and a copy of a recent payslip, if you have them. We’d also need to see any documents relevant to the situation, such as letters of redundancy and the Settlement Agreement itself. You’ll also need to provide photo ID (e.g. a passport or drivers’ licence) and a recent utility bill with your current home address on it and dated within the last three months
Frequently asked questions, answered
What is a disciplinary procedure?
If your employer invites you to a disciplinary hearing, we can advise you on your rights.
The result of a disciplinary procedure can range from no action being taken, through to terminating your employment. If your employment is terminated, you may be able to claim that dismissal was unfair. It’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible, so we can advise you on your legal position and options, as well as the time limits that apply. For more information, please talk to one of our expert employment lawyers.
What is Constructive dismissal?
Constructive dismissal is when you are forced to resign from your job due to a fundamental breach of the employment contract by your employer.
Your employer must have committed either a serious, one-off breach of contract or several incidents which together amount to unreasonable behaviour. To successfully claim for constructive dismissal, you must be able to prove your employment contract has been breached in such a way that your position is untenable.
Resigning in these circumstances is a significant step, so take legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers can advise you on all types of dismissal claims against employers.
Are you being made redundant?
Being made redundant is emotionally and financially challenging. In certain circumstances, if there isn’t a genuine redundancy situation or if your employer did not follow a fair procedure, you may have a potential claim.
If you’re being made redundant or are unsure if you have a valid claim, please get in touch with one of our team for expert advice. Your employer may ask you to sign a settlement agreement. Please talk to us before signing it, as you are effectively signing away your rights to claim for unfair dismissal.
Bullied or harassed at work?
Bullying or harassment in the workplace is a devastating reality for many employees, who fear that complaining about it could make the problem worse, or even lead to them losing their job.
If you feel unsupported by your employer, taking our advice early can help you understand your rights and get the problem resolved without fear of recriminations or of losing your job. We can also help you if you’re facing claims if bullying or harassing a colleague. We’ll advise you on the best way to proceed: whether it’s making a complaint under your employer’s grievance procedure, initiating a “without prejudice” discussion for a negotiated exit or bringing a claim before an employment tribunal.
Your family life is obviously a priority. We will explain your rights to family leave, maternity, adoption and paternity matters, flexible working requests, and equality in the workplace, so you know whether you’re being treated fairly.
As well as supporting you in these areas, we’ll also defend your entitlements in others, for example:
- Keeping you safe at work during pregnancy
- Allowing you time off for appointments
- Your leave, pay and benefits
- Your role and working hours when you return after a period of leave
You may feel you’re being discriminated against, if you experience detrimental treatment when you tell your employer you are pregnant or need maternity leave, or they make it difficult for you to balance childcare arrangements with your career.
We’ll help ease the situation with calm advice and, if it’s needed, decisive and determined action on your behalf.
What are my Family leave rights?
The law on family leave, maternity, paternity and adoption rights can be complex, and it’s easy for employers and employees to make a mistake. Issues can sometimes occur with:
- Ensuring you are safe at work during pregnancy – your employer has a duty to carry out a risk assessment once you have told them in writing that you’re pregnant
- Allowing you time off to attend appointments
- Refusing requests for flexible working. You have the right to apply to change working patterns
- Being side-lined or made redundant because you are pregnant, including losing your job if the company restructures when you are on family leave
- You also need to be certain of your pay and benefits entitlements, unpaid/emergency leave, and your role and working hours when you return after a period of leave
Unfortunately, some people do suffer from discrimination on the grounds of their maternity/paternity rights. We understand this isn’t a time when you want a dispute with your employer, but if you believe your rights are being breached or you simply want to know more about your rights, we can help you – so do get in touch.
A little background reading that could be helpfully front of mind