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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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    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.

    Posted 1 month ago

    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

    Posted 1 month ago

    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

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    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.

    Posted 2 months ago

    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