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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

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Anonymous

I had an employment issue which required legal advice. Chris was very supportive and knowledgeable, resulting in an optimum resolution in my favour. Would definitely recommend.

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David M

Very professional and first-rate advice. I would use again. With thanks,

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Anonymous

Got the job done swiftly without going too much in to detail.

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Derek W

Redmans dealt with my case very efficiently and I was happy with the outcome.

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Timely professional advice!

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Anonymous

Very good service

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Anonymous

I was in contact with Chris and then worked with Caroline on an employment matter. I was very pleased with the service and professionalism throughout, and came away with satisfied with the outcome. Would happily recommend.

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Nikki

Received advice re employment law. Chris was very helpful and advised accordingly. Would happily recommend them and if ever I need help again, will not think twice before using them.

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Samantha K

Absolutely brilliant thank you. Caroline Lewis is a legend

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Anonymous

The legal advice was clear and helpful.

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Davinder P

Good Service

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Adrian V

I was using Redmans services for a Settlement Agreement. Very quick and professional service. The outcome was favourable and I was very pleased with the amendments and results. Pretty glad to recommend them for any type of legal advice.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very responsive, efficient, clear and supportive. Thank you! Highly recommend.

Posted 2 months ago

Tiago S

Chris was always prompt to help me with legal matters that are beyond my comprehension and very helpful leasing with my former employer. I would recommend Redmans Solicitors to everyone who needs help.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Fast and professional advice tailored to what was needed. Thanks for your help Chris Hadrill and team.

Posted 2 months ago

Peter S

Really pleased with the outcome and the advice I had from Chris and Sacha.

Posted 2 months ago

Harika A

Redmans solicitor's helped me with my settlement agreement, Chris has been very helpful throughout the process.He was very prompt in his responses and made my settlement look simple.Special thanks to Caroline for her efficient communication, thorough explaination of contract terminology and negotiations.I highly reccommend Redmans solicitors for anyone seeking employment related legal help.

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Anonymous

Good and quick service

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Very satisfying to be assured of such attention and professionalism.

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Anonymous

Excellent service - thankyou

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Efficient, timely and friendly support and advice

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