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chris-hadrill-profileChris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, answers the question:

“I am currently negotiating a settlement agreement with my employer and am arguing that I should receive a pro-rata proportion of this year’s bonus payment. My employer is refusing this so far. What can I do?”

There are two separate sets of questions in the above: whether an employee is legally entitled to receive their bonus upon termination of their employment and, secondly, whether it is common for employees to receive a bonus under their settlement agreement even if they aren’t legally entitled to it.

Whether an employee is legally entitled to receive their bonus upon termination of their contract of employment depends upon three issues: firstly, the date on which it would normally be decided whether the employee would be entitled to receive a bonus for the particular financial year (“the Bonus Decision Date”); secondly, whether the termination date of the employee’s employment (“the Termination Date”) falls before or after the Bonus Decision Date; and, thirdly, what the contractual terms of the bonus are (e.g. whether the bonus is mandatory or discretionary, whether there has been a custom and practice of paying bonuses and, if so, how much has generally been paid etc.).

The employee will first have to determine what their usual Bonus Decision Date. Once the employee has done so, if the Bonus Decision Date falls on or before the Termination Date then it is generally possible to argue that the employee should be paid a bonus (the situation becomes slightly more complex if the employee is being paid in lieu of notice – in this circumstance whether the employee is entitled to a bonus payment will depend on whether there is a payment in lieu of notice clause (“PILON clause”) in the employee’s contract of employment and, if so, what the terms of that PILON clause are); if the Termination Date falls before the usual Bonus Decision Date then it is generally not possible to cogently argue that the employee should receive a bonus under the settlement agreement.

If the Termination Date does fall on or after the Bonus Decision Date then whether the employee is entitled to a bonus under their settlement agreement will depend upon a variety of factors, including (among others):

  1. Whether the employee’s entitlement to a bonus is discretionary or absolute (normally the employee’s entitlement to a bonus is discretionary in respect of whether the employee should receive a bonus and, if so, how much)
  2. Whether there has been a custom and practice of paying bonuses during the employee’s employment; and
  3. Whether there has been a custom and practice of paying bonuses in cases where an employee leaves under the terms of a settlement agreement

The employee should carefully check their contractual documents (or get their lawyer to check them) to determine whether there is a bonus clause and, if so, what the terms of that bonus clause are. The employee should also create a chronology of when they have received bonuses in the past and how much they have tended to receive. If possible (and being careful not to contravene the terms of any settlement agreement the employee may have been offered) the employee may wish to try and see what departing employees leaving under settlement agreements have been offered in respect of their bonuses (it can be difficult to determine this, though, as other (ex-)employees may be reluctant to be forthcoming about the terms of their settlement agreement for a variety of reasons).

If you believe that you should be receiving a bonus under your settlement agreement then it is advisable to ask your lawyer to check this for you and, if appropriate, return to your employer to negotiate this for you.

About Chris Hadrill

Chris is a specialist employment lawyer at Redmans. He specialises in contentious and non-contentious employment matters, including breach of contract claims, compromise agreements and Employment Tribunal cases. He writes on employment law matters on a variety of websites, including Direct 2 Lawyers, Lawontheweb.co.uk, LegalVoice, the Justice Gap and his own blog. Contact Chris by emailing him at chadrill@redmans.co.uk

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One Response to Question: should I receive a bonus payment under my settlement agreement?

  1. […] The issue of bonus payments under settlement agreements is also covered in this article. […]

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    235 Reviews

    Paul O

    Chris & Rana guided me through a redundancy discussion. Prompt & patient assistance with the documents & meetings. Clear advice & fast responses regarding negotiations. Would definitely recommend & would use again without hesitation.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Outstanding, efficient service. Thank you so much!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Jaswant S

    Very very happy with the good service I got Thank you so much for your help

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Mel and Chris were fantastic and supportive throughout! 1000% recommend.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Emma D

    Good responsive service

    Posted 1 month ago

    Mike T

    Good efficient service.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Brenda G

    Very professional and helpful

    Posted 1 month ago

    Charles A

    Chris Hadrill was recommended to me when I found myself in need of a solicitor at very short notice. He contacted me almost immediately to arrange a call. Chris handled my case in a professional and timely manner and kept me notified throughout. Chris inspired confidence and made me feel I was being cared for. If ever I'm in need of legal representation, I would not hesitate to contact Chris. And will gladly recommend him to family and friends.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Rosalind R

    I was very happy with the service that I received from Redmans Solicitors. They were able to advise me accordingly with regards to my employment matter and stay within the agreed costing.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Karl B

    Caroline and Chris were so helpful and friendly. Couldn't of asked for a better service.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Dimitrios P

    Excellent, professional service, in time and within the expected value.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Barbara K

    Everything quickly and fairly. Very professional. Thank you.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Sabrina J

    I received a efficient professional service during the whole process of liasing between myself and my former employer to getting all forms signed and receiving my redundancy payment in full in the summer of this year.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I received legal advice on a redundancy settlement agreement from Redmans Solicitors and was very impressed by the quality of their service. Chris Hadrill is highly experienced in settlement matters and was especially understanding of the particulars of my case, going out of his way to ensure that it was resolved quickly and with the utmost professionalism. I have no hesitation in recommending Redmans to anyone in need of employment advice and settlement resolution.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service, with full explanations of everything needed. Both Chris and Mel answered all emails very promptly and were personable and efficient.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I would like to thank Chris Hadrill, in particular who handled my case, for all his hard work, expertise and dedication. He listened with empathy and offered suitable advice, which made me feel valued and confident through a difficult time. I would highly recommend Chris and the team at Redmans Solicitors. Thank you.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Yann G

    Yann Guezennec / Chris Hadrill - Thanks for the detailed, informed and professional advice for my settlement. When comprise is the rule I felt we could have been maybe a bit more aggressive from the start. However an acceptable outcome considering the situation. Thank you

    Posted 1 month ago

    Valentina D

    Great service from Mel, she was very good at explaining every part of the settlement agreement and very efficient dealing with the HR team. Very professional team, I would definitely use them again in future if the opportunity came up.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Olaf S

    I was very happy with the service that I have received. Thank You Regards

    Posted 1 month ago

    Rebecca A

    I had a wonderful solicitor called Caroline who was so helpful and gave me all the information I need and explained everything in detail so I was crystal clear. Would highly recommend if you are in need of a solicitor!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Gareth J

    Very efficient, helpful and pragmatic support from Caroline. Happy to work with my requirements / suggestions but also made some very good points which helped to achieve a higher settlement amount. Would highly recommend Caroline and Chris.

    Posted 1 month ago