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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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    Sue W

    The people at Redmans talk to you with respect and make you feel like they take your situation personal. They clearly care and are extremely professional. I have recommended Redmans to many people.

    Posted 5 days ago

    Anonymous

    Redmans Solicitors were consistently prompt, efficient and professional from the start of my reaching out to them for support in relation to contentious negotiations of an employment matter that continued for almost two months resulting in a positive settlement agreement. Chris Hadrill was diligent, thorough, empathetic and objective in his advice and guidance, showing deep and broad knowledge of the law and legal processes plus extensive practical experience in handling complex matters, resulting in clear and pragmatic advice in ambiguous circumstances that resulted in a very good outcome. I fully recommend Chris Hadrill and Redmans Solicitors! I have made this review anonymous purely because of the confidentiality obligations in the settlement agreement concluded.

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    Michelle W

    Redmans solicitors provided legal support and advice for a settlement agreement. Excellent customer service, very professional. The senior associate solicitor kept me updated throughout the process, showed empathy and the agreement was signed-off / completed within the agreed timeline.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Mark W

    Redmans Solicitors were extremely professional and helpful! Chris Hadrill handled my case and was an amazing help! His guidance, advice and understanding to my redundancy settlement were always clear, concise and very helpful and I am very grateful to him, and glad I found Redmans to help with my settlement. I highly recommend them!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Alison M

    Very happy with the advice I received

    Posted 1 month ago

    Margaret A

    I found everything about the company to be extremely professional and efficient. During my initial contact with Chris, he listened well and was reassuring, so I felt confident that my case would be well handled. Caroline was excellent at explaining all the legal points and answering my questions, as well as being very supportive and understanding throughout the process. I would definitely recommend this company.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Sanja K

    Very efficient and professional service.

    Posted 1 month ago

    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 1 month ago

    Karen T

    Great service. Thank you.

    Posted 1 month 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 1 month ago

    Shanine M

    Excellent service, thank you so much!

    Posted 1 month 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 1 month ago

    Gayle B

    Excellent company very professional would definitely recommend

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    Alex K

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

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Great job done on my employment law

    Posted 1 month ago

    Dominica S

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

    Posted 2 months 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.

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    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 2 months 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 2 months ago

    Christos G

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

    Posted 2 months 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 2 months ago