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In this article one of our specialist employment solicitors, Chris Hadrill, provides ten tips on how to negotiate a settlement agreement with your employer

  1. Research the law in order to determine how much your settlement agreement is reasonably worth
  2. Use any personal connections that you have with management to negotiate your deal
  3. Think about instructing specialist employment solicitors to advise you
  4. Set out clearly what benefits you wish to receive under the terms of the settlement agreement
  5. Deal with the negotiations with your employer calmly and courteously
  6. Send a written grievance to your employer detailing your complaints
  7. Don’t always accept the first offer that your employer makes
  8. Check the terms of any settlement agreement offered carefully
  9. Consider carefully the costs and benefits of signing a settlement agreement as compared to litigating
  10. Make sure that your settlement agreement is legally compliant

Research the law in order to determine how much your settlement agreement is reasonably worth

Make sure you research the law relevant to your matter thoroughly before starting negotiations with your employer – for example, if you’re being made redundant then you’ll need to check (among other things) whether you’re entitled to bring an unfair dismissal claim, whether you’re entitled to a statutory redundancy payment (and , if so, how much), whether you’re entitled to a contractual redundancy payment (and, if so, how much), what period of notice you’re entitled to, and what other benefits you’ll receive as part of your redundancy package. You can do the research yourself but it is probably a good idea to speak to a specialist employment solicitor in order to check what you’re entitled to

Use any personal connections that you have with management to negotiate your deal

If you’ve instructed a solicitor to advise you on your settlement agreement then you may think that the natural thing to do would be to instruct the solicitor to communicate with your employer for you. However, it isn’t always the case that it’s best for your solicitor to negotiate/communicate with your employer on your behalf; in certain circumstances it may in fact be preferable for you to communicate with your employer yourself – this generally applies if you have good connections with the senior manager(s) who has responsibility for dealing with the settlement agreement negotiations, as you can use your personal relationship with them to negotiate to good effect. Personal connections do, generally, really matter, as then you’re more than a ‘number’ to management. This may seem basic but it’s true.

If you do have good personal relationships with the relevant senior management then it’s nonetheless still a good idea to speak to your lawyer first to examine your entitlements, the tactics to use in negotiations, and to discuss a negotiating strategy.

Think about instructing specialist employment solicitors to advise you

Again, this may seem like fairly basic advice (and something that a solicitor would say) but it really is a good idea to get specialist advice from an employment solicitor at an early stage in your settlement agreement negotiations in order to identify what your entitlements might be, what issues need to be negotiated, and to discuss negotiation tactics and strategies.

Set out clearly what benefits you wish to receive under the terms of the settlement agreement

The first things you should identify in the settlement agreement negotiations are:

  1. What your basic minimum entitlements are; and
  2. What you wish to gain out of the settlement agreement negotiations (i.e. what your ideal package is)

It may also help to have information on what your employer’s general approach to settlement agreement negotiations are i.e. what packages your employer normally offers and what their approach is to various issues (such as, for example, what enhanced redundancy packages the employer offers as a matter of custom and practice or what their position is on bonuses being paid out). You might have this information but, if you don’t, your solicitor might have this information (based upon his experience with the relevant employer) or you might be able to speak to a (current or former) colleague about what they received under their settlement agreement (although be careful here, though – you don’t want to breach confidentiality clauses (and potentially be found out) before negotiations start).

Deal with the negotiations with your employer calmly and courteously

A basic point (yet again) but keeping the relationship between you and your employer (or your solicitor and your employer or their representative) is generally pretty important – if the settlement agreement negotiations start to become fractious or bad-tempered then this may decrease the likelihood of achieving certain targets for the settlement agreement or could potentially lead to a breakdown in the negotiations. This is best avoided for obvious reasons.

Send a written grievance to your employer detailing your complaints

This may not be appropriate in all circumstances (for example, if you’re taking a voluntary redundancy package) but, in appropriate circumstances, sending your employer a detailed grievance outlining your complaints may assist in negotiating your settlement agreement for the following reasons:

  1. It will identify that you have a problem (if your employer isn’t already aware of this)
  2. It will identify what your complaints are, and potentially what your Employment Tribunal claims might be – this will give your employer an opportunity to investigate those complaints, determine the risk that they face, and potentially allow them to estimate an appropriate value for your settlement agreement
  3. It will serve as a useful ‘placemarker’ for an Employment Tribunal of what your complaints were at a particular time

Don’t always accept the first offer that your employer makes

Even if your employer says that their first offer is ‘full and final’ or ‘non-negotiable’ there is, in most circumstances, room for negotiating the financial value of the settlement agreement and/or other terms. One of the first pieces of advice that I give most clients with settlement agreements is that it’s almost always worth at least one attempt to increase the value of any settlement agreement.

Check the terms of any settlement agreement offered carefully

When you receive your settlement agreement it’s recommended that you review it thoroughly in order to determine what financial package you’re being offered and how the terms of the agreement offered match up with your expectations. You should also give a copy of your settlement agreement to your instructed solicitor so that your solicitor can offer you advice on what amendments, in their experience, should be made to the settlement agreement.

Consider carefully the costs and benefits of signing a settlement agreement as compared to litigating

After you’ve gone through a few rounds of negotiation with your employer, and if the package that you’re being offered under your settlement agreement isn’t what you wanted, carefully discuss with your solicitor what the various costs and benefits are to signing your settlement agreement or rejecting the settlement agreement and potentially litigating; discussing this in detail will allow you to make an informed decision about what you want to do going forward.

Make sure that your settlement agreement is legally compliant

Your settlement agreement will need to meet certain legal conditions in order to be valid and binding – make sure that your solicitor checks whether all the conditions are met before you sign it (as you don’t want to find out at a later date that your settlement agreement isn’t binding or valid).

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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    Anonymous

    I have been very pleased with the support I got from Redmans Solicitors on my case with my employer. Caroline has always helped me to put things in perspective and showed me different scenarios ultimately to help me taking the right decision. She was very professional and always available when I needed, and at the same time also emphatic which I found also really important to establish a strong relationship. Will definitely recommend!

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    Anonymous

    Prompt and efficient response to my enquiries. Excellent negotiating skills with my employer which considerably improved the terms of my settlement agreement.

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    Sacha was extremely helpful in my matter. I would not hesitate you use Sacha or Redmonds again. Everyone was very helpful.

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    I had Mel Chin helping me with a settlement and she was very professional and reliable throughout my case. Mel provided me with a good understanding of what was happening and gave suggestions on routes I could take. My case was resolved and closed promptly although the opposing side were very difficult to deal with. A very big thank you to Mel and Chris.

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    Jackie C

    My first ever experience needing the services of a solicitor; cannot speak highly enough of Mel and Chris’s personable, reassuring and straight to the point advice in dealing with my settlement agreement. They put me at ease during an extremely stressful time. I am equally as happy with the outcome, as l am their professional services.

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    Really happy with the service. All very efficient. Mel rattled through things very fast, however was great whenever I needed to stop and ask a question! Would definitely return to Redmans if I ever needed Legal advice.

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    Peter F

    Very helpful and clear advice, would highly recommend.

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    William A

    Second time I have had to use Redmans. They did not disappoint. They are fast , efficient and friendly. I have already recommended them to friends and colleagues. I hope I dont have to use them again but if I have to , they are the solicitors for me.

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    Great service with tantastic communications. The solicitor responsible is extremely knowledgeable and was responsible for bringing a timely and desired solution.

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    Veronica M

    Extremely helpful, starting from a request for advice at very short notice, to dedicating time for me to understand and review all documents thoroughly.

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    Sophie R

    Very efficient and professional service. Chris was very empathetic, knowledgeable and personable. Highly recommended.

    Posted 4 weeks ago

    Melanie M

    Very happy with the detailed advice provided from Redmans. They also helped me to secure a higher settlement than originally offered by my employer and were extremely diligent. I first spoke with Chris at relatively short notice and then Sacha dealt with my case. Would definitely recommend and use again in the future if needed.

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    Anonymous

    Redmans helped me with a work related issue, which was resolved quickly and professionally. I would definitely recommend this company.

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    My case was handled by Sacha who was very thorough and helped me to achieve a good outcome with my employer. Sacha was very personal, professional and helped me during quite a stressful time, so I am hugely grateful to her and to Redmans. This was my first time engaging with a law firm so I wasn't sure what to expect but I can definitely say that it was a good experience overall and I ended up better off due to having the help of an experienced and proactive solicitor on my side.

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    Diane P

    So grateful that I contacted Redmans to deal with my Redundancy Agreement. Everything from the initial call to the completion of the matter was professional, efficient and effective. I was listened to, had everything explained simply and kept informed of every step. I received super advice and the costs were very competitive. I would highly recommend them to anyone seeking similar help. First class service - thank you

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