In this article Chris Hadrill, the partner in the employment team at Redmans, gives his five top tips for employees on how to deal with redundancy settlement agreements
- Challenge your employer on any unfairness in the redundancy process
- Keep good notes of the process
- Make sure your employer checks whether there are any suitable alternative vacancies
- Get clear details of the redundancy package that you are being offered
- Get legal advice from a specialist employment solicitor
Challenge your employer on any unfairness in the redundancy process
One of the most important things that you can do in a redundancy process is, if you think that you are being treated unfairly, challenge your employer on the points of unfairness – if you challenge your employer then your employer might decide to reverse its decision on the redundancy process or it might decide to offer you a settlement agreement to compensate you for any points of unfairness.
We recommend that, if you do challenge your employer during the redundancy process, that you do so in writing in order to keep a written record of what happened and when. This will help you to negotiate a settlement at a later date, if necessary, and will also help in any Employment Tribunal claim that you might bring.
Keep good notes of the process
As above, it’s a good idea to keep as comprehensive a written record as possible of the redundancy process. This would include:
- Keeping notes of any meetings that you have with your employer regarding the redundancy process
- Sending emails confirming the contents of any verbal conversations that you have had with your colleagues regarding the redundancy process
- Keeping copies of emails, text messages etc. sent regarding the redundancy process
- Keeping copies of any letters received from your employer regarding the redundancy process
Make sure your employer checks whether there are any suitable alternative vacancies
Your employer has a legal obligation to check whether there are any suitable alternative vacancies in the organisation prior to dismissing you and, if there are any suitable alternative vacancies, to offer them to you (or to give you an opportunity to apply for such).
If you are on maternity leave then you have an enhanced right to be placed into any suitable alternative vacant position in the organisation.
If your employer fails to comply with this obligation then any dismissal may be unfair, and it may be a point that you can use to negotiate your redundancy package.
Get clear details of the redundancy package that you are being offered
If you are offered an enhanced redundancy package by your employer then it’s important to obtain a clear understanding of the breakdown of what you are being offered. You should therefore ask your employer to put details of what it is offering you in writing and, further, for them to break down exactly what you’re being offered (and which parts of the offer will be tax-free and which will not).
As a guide, you should normally receive the following sums as part of an enhanced redundancy package:
- Notice pay
- Holiday pay
- Salary accrued to the termination date
- Benefits to the termination date
- Ex-gratia compensation for the termination of your employment (which can be paid tax-free to you)
The above list is not exhaustive, but it contains the normal types of sums that you can expect to receive if you are made redundant. However, you may also be entitled to other sums (such as commission, bonus, benefits etc.).
Once you have agreed the redundancy package with your employer they will normally provide you with a contract known as a ‘settlement agreement’ – this contract will set out the sums that you can expect to receive and, normally, a clause confirming that you are agreeing to waive any claims that you would otherwise have against your employer.
Get legal advice from a specialist employment solicitor
A specialist employment solicitor will be able to offer you expert advice on the redundancy process and any settlement agreement offered – they will, in particular, be able to advise you on the prospects of success of any claim for unfair dismissal that you may have and the value of your potential claim for unfair dismissal.
You are required, if you are offered a settlement agreement, to take legal advice from an independent legal adviser.