Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Chris Hadrill, the partner in the employment team at Redmans, looks at “protected conversations”: what do they mean, and when are they used?

Protected conversations: the history

in July 2013, the Conservative Government introduced new legislation (in section 111A(1) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA 1996)) to operate alongside the without prejudice principle – this new legislation introduced the concept of “pre-termination negotiations” (also known as “protected conversations”). The purpose of the legislation was to allow employees and employers to have “frank conversations” about termination at either’s request (in practice, these conversations are normally started by employers, but they can be and are initiated by employees); the main consequence of the legislation was to make it easier for employers to initiate settlement conversations with employees with less risk of those conversations being admissible in subsequent tribunal proceedings.

Protected conversations: what do they mean in practice?

In practice if an employee is approached by their employer and told that they are going to have a “protected conversation” then this is generally a prelude to the employee being told that they are going to be offered a settlement agreement, with a view to their employment terminating in the near future. There will then normally be a discussion between the employer and the employee regarding the ‘severance package’ to be offered to the employee, and the employee will then normally be provided with a copy of a settlement agreement. The employee will also be told that they should obtain independent legal advice from a legal adviser (such as a solicitor).

The effect of a “protected conversation” will be, for the purposes of unfair dismissal claims, to render the fact and contents of a “protected conversation” inadmissible unless there has been “improper behaviour” on the employer’s part (see our analysis of section 111A Employment Rights Act 1996 here).

When are protected conversations used?

“Protected conversations” are generally used where the employer wants to terminate the employee’s employment (for example, in a situation where the employee is being accused of misconduct or the employer thinks they are underperforming).

There are various reason why employers use “protected conversations” (and settlement agreements in general), but the principal reasons are normally: 1) in order to effect a quick and reasonably ‘painless’ exit, without protracted disciplinary or capability processes being undertaken; and 2) in order to limit the employer’s liability to the employee (i.e. to avoid a claim being brought against it).

What should you do if your employer holds a protected conversation with you?

If your employer has asked you to participate in a “protected conversation” with it, or you have been offered a settlement agreement, then it is a good idea to get in touch immediately with a specialist legal adviser (such as an employment solicitor) in order to obtain independent legal advice on your situation – it is normally important to move quickly to negotiate the terms of the agreement in order to optimize the chances of success of negotiation.

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

    Your first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry

    Contact us

    Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

    T: 020 3397 3603
    E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
    W: www.redmans.co.uk

    Testimonials

    4.78 Average

    262 Reviews

    Anonymous

    I found the advice I was given by Redmans Solicitors to be clear and useful and found the solicitor on my case to be both knowledgeable and approachable.

    Posted 12 hours ago

    Karen T

    Great service. Thank you.

    Posted 1 day ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service from Chris & Mel Chin. The best outcome was achieved from the redundancy process. They were extremely thorough, listened carefully and acted swiftly on my behalf. I highly recommend Redmans Solicitors

    Posted 2 days ago

    Shanine M

    Excellent service, thank you so much!

    Posted 4 days ago

    Anonymous

    I found Caroline and Chris very Helpful and provided excellent service. Caroline especially provided great legal advice and made me feel at ease with the whole process. I would highly recommend them. Thank you!

    Posted 4 days ago

    Gayle B

    Excellent company very professional would definitely recommend

    Posted 5 days ago

    Alex K

    Redmans provided an excellent service, timely and effective. Will definitely recommend.

    Posted 5 days ago

    Anonymous

    Great job done on my employment law

    Posted 5 days ago

    Dominica S

    Caroline & Chris were very prompt and efficient.Very happy with the service and will definitely recommend Redmans Solicitor to everyone !

    Posted 6 days ago

    Sandra K

    If you are looking for a group of solicitors who are Professional, Caring and on point, then look no futher than Redmans. I was literally hand held through out my case. Can not find fault with this company, very happy with the result and the service i received. Would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 6 days ago

    Anonymous

    I found dealing with Redmans a pleasure. I got to speak to someone quickly, the advice was profferred promplty and the service was not 'pushy'. In addition, the administration was excellent. What more could you ask for?

    Posted 6 days ago

    ALISDAIR L

    Redmans did a brilliant job regarding my redundancy agreement. I miss read an extra charge which wasnt the case so doing a new review to clarify. I would recommend Redmans for any employment law issues you may have.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Christos G

    Great legal advice and quick correspondence. Very supportive and helpful through the entire process. Thank you Redmans!

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Chris Hadrill advised me on a redundancy settlement agreement. He was very responsive, easy to deal with and gave me good advice at a stressful time.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Zara M

    Rana at Redmans gave me support and confidence I needed to ensure a wrong, was put right. I couldn’t recommend enough.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Stuart T

    Chris provided an excellent service, he was efficient and friendly and I had no doubt when recommending him to my colleagues

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service, prompt responses. Chris Hadrill provided excellent and efficient service.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Jane M

    Wonderful solicitors who really listen to you and who are there to offer expert legal advice but they also have a personal touch and you really feel supported both from a legal aspect but also from a personal aspect. They really listen .

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    They dealt with my case professional and swiftly. The advise was helpful and enabled me to make the right decisions in my case.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    I have received a great legal advice from Redmans on a very short notice. I’d highly recommend them.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Michael D

    Excellent, efficient advice - the whole matter was concluded with minimum fuss and an excellent outcome.

    Posted 2 weeks ago