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Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, explains what settlement agreements are and why employers offer them to employees.

Settlement agreements: what are they?

Settlement agreements are a type of contract that is used to settle actual or potential claims that employees may have against their employer arising out of their employment or the termination of their employment; they are also sometimes (in rare cases) used by employers to also settle potential claims that they could have against current or former employees.

Settlement agreements normally contain a reasonably standard set of obligations on the part of both the employer and the employee, as follows (please note that this is not an exhaustive list but details the most common types of obligation):

  • An agreement as to how the employee’s notice period and outstanding holiday pay will be dealt with;
  • The payment by the employer of an agreed amount of ex-gratia compensation for loss of employment to the employee (which can be tax-free up to a maximum of £30,000);
  • The provision by the employer of an agreed form of reference; and
  • In return, the employee’s agreement that they are agreeing not to pursue the employer for certain types of claim (normally any and all statutory, contractual and tortious claims, save for an excepted few)

Why do employers offer settlement agreements?

In my experience most settlement agreements are used by employers to settle potential claims for unfair dismissal by employees arising from the following types of situations:

  • An ongoing or concluded redundancy process
  • An ongoing or concluded performance improvement process
  • Where there has been a breakdown in trust and confidence between the employer and the employee
  • Where there have been allegations of misconduct made by an employer against an employee
  • In settlement of an Employment Tribunal claim threatened or brought by an employee

There can be many reasons why employers offer settlement agreements to employees – some of these are detailed and explored below. Settlement agreements are often used in the following circumstances:

  • As standard practice by the Human Resources team at an employer;
  • To set out the terms of departure with certainty;
  • To ensure a departing employee’s ongoing cooperation and assistance after they leave their employment;
  • To settle threatened or issued Employment Tribunal claims

If you’re unsure as to the reason why you’ve been given a settlement agreement then you should seek legal advice on the terms of the agreement and discuss with your legal adviser why you think you’ve been offered the agreement – your legal adviser may be able to help you shed some light on why you’ve been offered the agreement (or make enquiries with your employer to find out). However, in the absence of specific information one way or the other I generally find that it is important not to speculate about the reasons why a client has been offered a settlement agreement, as this can distract from the task of advising on the terms.

Obtaining specialist legal advice on your settlement agreement

If you’ve been offered a settlement agreement by your employer then you should obtain specialist advice from a legal adviser, such as a specialist employment solicitor, on the terms and effect of the agreement – you should generally try to obtain advice as soon as possible as employers normally set a deadline for the completion of the agreement.

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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Testimonials

4.78 Average

143 Reviews

Liz P

An excellent professional service was provided by Chris Hadrill and Mel Chin. Efficient and trustworthy - would highly recommend this company.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

Redmans Solicitors were great. They were able to advice me quickly and efficiently! I would recommend them, as a good solicitors to use.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

Extremely efficient. Mel made a difficult situation bearable and gave good clear guidance thoughout.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Thanks Chris and Sacha I was reassured throughout the process and a happy outcome

Posted 3 weeks ago

Edward F

Good and clear employment advice

Posted 3 weeks ago

Richard O

Chris at Redmans is my go-to legal expert when it comes to employee-related matters. His depth of knowledge, experience and considered approach to problems and their solutions is highly valuable. I cannot recommend Redmans highly enough.

Posted 1 month ago

Rory Y

They provide me with timely and clear advice!

Posted 1 month ago

Steven C

Redmans handled my settlement with my employer quickly, decisively and to a standard that I was very happy with. I would in similar circumstances contract them again

Posted 1 month ago

Deepthi K

Transparent. Clear communication. Prompt reply’s. Saves lot of time. Very satisfied.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Chris and Sacha did a fantastic job and negotiated a significant better settlement agreement

Posted 1 month ago

Dino D

I did get a very swift and god service from Redmans

Posted 1 month ago

Stephanie H

Clear, prompt, effective support from Chris which has been very much appreciated. Thank you again.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

I would highly recommend Redmans Solicitors, the team were very friendly and my case was dealt with professionally and efficiently. Thank you!

Posted 2 months ago

Shane M

Very professional, welcome advice at a crucial time. Always available and reasonable cost.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

My case was relatively straight-forward. But even so, working with Redmans was easy, quick, professional & clear. Many thanks

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

The team were very helpful and answered all my questions regarding my redundancy. Initially I had a call with one of the representatives who escalated my request to a suitable employment solicitor. We arranged a call to discuss the settlement and she helped answer all my questions. We then mainly contacted through email which helped resolve the settlement quickly and convently. Thanks for all the help.

Posted 2 months ago

Djaouida T

You have good communication.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Fast and professional. A highly recommended company for employment related issues.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very professional service.

Posted 2 months ago

Brittany

I was very grateful for Redmans to treat my case with respect and discretion. At the time, I was very new to London and it was meaningful to have someone on my side and win the case for me. Without any doubt, I would definitely recommend Redmans Solicitors to anyone who is in need of it.

Posted 10 months ago

Jake L

Chris is very professional and calm. Very attentive and patient, been a positive experience having Chris represent me, and would recommend him.

Posted 1 year ago