We are specialist settlement agreement solicitors in London. If you have been given a settlement agreement you will need urgent legal advice on why you have been given this document, what you need to do about it and what the outcome will be.
A settlement agreement (which used to be called a compromise agreement) is a document your employer will have given you if you will be leaving your job. When it has been signed by both you and your employer and dated, it will be a legally binding document to settle any claims you have or may have against your employer in any court or tribunal, now or at any time in the future. In exchange, you will be paid what you are entitled to under your employment contract, and your employer may also add payments relating to redundancy (if you are entitled to it) or compensation for the loss of your job.
Every settlement agreement needs to be signed off by a solicitor. In light of Covid-19, we are currently giving this very urgent advice over the phone or through Zoom meetings, which works just as well as face-to-face meetings. Your employer is also required to make a contribution towards your legal expenses and, very often, this means we don’t have to charge you anything on top.
Over the years, Prior Law has built a reputation for ensuring that, when a job comes to an end, which is traumatic whatever the circumstances, we will fight tooth and nail to make sure you get what you are entitled to and that it is fair all round. Even at this difficult time, employers are still legally obliged to give you what you are entitled to receive.
Please do call our virtual offices on 0208 761 2302 or 07739 422435, email Nicola Prior on firstname.lastname@example.org or request a callback. We will respond to you immediately, and we are happy to work outside normal office hours in these difficult times. You will find that we can provide a fast, friendly, efficient and vastly experienced service, hopefully at no cost to you at all.
Please do read through our FAQs below.
What is a settlement agreement?
A settlement agreement (which used to be called a compromise agreement) is a document your employer will have given you if you will be leaving your job. A settlement agreement is a legally binding document that will be signed by both you and your employer in order to settle any claims you have or may have against your employer.
In exchange for receiving money for your contractual rights (including your notice and holiday pay), together with any other financial sums (for example, redundancy pay, if applicable, or a discretionary tax free payment for losing your job), when the agreement is signed and dated, then you will not be entitled to make any claim against your employer in any court or tribunal, now or in the future.
In other words, a settlement agreement is in full and final settlement of any claims you may have.
When is a settlement agreement used?
Settlement agreements have been used for many years now in cases of
- unfair dismissal
- wrongful dismissal
- constructive dismissal
We specialise in advising clients on settlement agreements. We know that if you are about to lose your job it is a very stressful time and most people are initially extremely shocked when they receive a settlement agreement. Especially in these difficult times, when plenty of people are losing their jobs, were are here to help you get through the process, and to take most of that stress away from you.
When is it not appropriate to use a settlement agreement?
There are only two employment law situations when it is not appropriate to use a settlement agreement. The first is for claims for personal injury, when the injury has not yet happened, ie making a claim for a future injury. The second situation is where the employer has failed to inform and consult on a collective redundancy situation in the context of a transfer of business to a third party.
What is included in a settlement agreement?
The settlement agreement will set out the reason why you are losing your job and will specify the exact amounts of money you will receive (and when) and the date on which your job will end. It will set out what you can or cannot say to potential future employers and legal promises will be made by both you and your employer. It will also set out what happens if there is a breach of the settlement agreement, although these are extremely rare. It will also deal with any tax that might be payable and, if so, by whom. Importantly, it will also include a reference, which is a vital part of any settlement agreement.
Can you advise me on my settlement agreement?
If you are given a settlement agreement, we can certainly advise you. We will need to have sight of the electronic copies of the settlement agreement and your contract of employment (or the most recent one you have). We are happy to liaise with the HR team at work, if necessary, to get the right paperwork in place.
The reason we need to see your contract of employment is to ensure that its terms are fairly reflected in your settlement agreement, and therefore to ensure that your employer is giving you at least what you are contractually entitled to receive. We will then go through the clauses with you and explain what they mean and what rights and duties you will have if you do or don't sign the settlement agreement.
Why do I need a solicitor for my settlement agreement?
No two settlement agreements are the same, although the one thing they all have in common is that they need to be signed off by a solicitor. The reason for this is so that we can tell you if what your employer is proposing to give you in order to settle your claims is less than the sum you are entitled to receive on the termination of your job. We can also advise you if there are any ongoing clauses in your contract of employment regarding your duty of confidentiality or any restrictions on where you work in the future.
Can you negotiate my settlement agreement for me?
We can certainly do that if you want us to. Some people are happy with the terms of their settlement agreements and don't want anything changed. However, sometimes settlement agreement can include terms that are incorrect
or are not to your advantage. We can also sometimes get some more money for you if, in our opinion, your employer has not dealt fairly with you or there has been some 'improper behaviour' on their part, for example telling people you are leaving when it is still meant to be confidential.
Over the years, Prior Law has built a reputation for ensuring that, when a job comes to an end, which is traumatic whatever the circumstances, we will fight tooth and nail to make sure you get at least what you are entitled to and that it is fair all round. Even at this difficult time, if employers cannot give you what you are entitled to, then they cannot settle your claims.
What does a settlement agreement cost?
Employers always make a contribution towards your legal costs, usually between £250 and £750, plus VAT. This is almost always enough to cover the cost to us, and so very often we will not have to charge you anything over and above that amount. However, sometimes, if thing are very complex or the work is taking a long time, we may need to discuss our costs with you. We have a policy of never charging you more than the employer's contribution, but if a large settlement is being negotiated, it is usually worth a little extra to reach a settlement, rather than failing to get there at all. All costs agreed are sent out to you in a letter before the work begins.
How quickly can the work on my settlement agreement be done?
In pre-Covid-19 times, settlement agreements required a visit to our offices, a face-to-face meeting, a conversation with HR on a speaker phone and then hard copies being put in the post in duplicate, etc. Those days are gone. We can have an old-fashioned telephone conversation or we can meet on Zoom or Skype or even FaceTime. With modern-day technology, we can scan and email all documents, so there really is no need to waste time coming into Prior Law's offices here in London. We can all save time (and costs) by not travelling and at the same time not risking getting the virus in the process.
We can sometimes turn a settlement agreement around in a day, provided the terms are not disputed and everyone is available to sign. However, most people need a few days after they have been given a settlement agreement to get over the shock and before they are ready to instruct solicitors, which is quite understandable. We will never let you down, though, if your employer wants it back yesterday.
What do I do next if I have a settlement agreement?
Please do call us on 0208 761 2302 or 07739 422435 or email email@example.com. Alternatively, you can ask us to call you on our callback box. We will respond to you immediately, and we are happy to work outside normal office hours in these difficult times. You will find that we can provide a fast, friendly, efficient and vastly experienced service, hopefully at no cost to you at all.