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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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    Arabella B

    I am so grateful to Caroline Lewis at Redmans Solicitor’s for helping me with my Unfair Dismissal Case. I was seriously impressed how easy Redmans made the whole case, and am very happy with my Settlement. I have recommended your firm to at least 5 people in the last 3 months.. Thank you Caroline and everyone at Redmans. You are Brilliant .

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    Anonymous

    I used the services of Redmans solicitors and was a quick outstanding service I engaged them in a settlement agreement after been made redundant extremely professional at all that was done and would definetly use them again

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    Spot on support, enough to get the matter at hand sorted. No beating around the bush, no nonsense - got the job done and we all moved on.

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    Five Stars I was most impressed by the attention, courtesy, speed and above all, professionalism in dealing with my Settlement Agreement. I would certainly have no problem in recommending this firm to anyone in need of their services.

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    I was surprisingly impressed by how Redmans Solicitors handle my case. From the moment I call them to the absolute end of my case, they always look after my best interest.

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    Excellent service all the way through from start to finish. Really great support and guidance from the team, they secured the offer that I wanted. I can't recommend Redmans highly enough and will be sure to use their services again should the need arise.

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    Quick response very helpful Issue raised dealt with very quickly

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    Redmans give Great service and advice on reading contracts. They can explain all the solicitors jargon into words that you can understand. I received excellent service an I will use them again and again.

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    Anonymous

    Very grateful for Mel’s efforts in handling my case from start to finish which I would have found very stressful without it. She was very professional, friendly and we had a positive outcome. Highly recommend.

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    Nalin W

    Mel Chin was my Legal Executive when I engaged the services of Redmans Solicitors to help with a redundancy matter. She was incredibly approachable and professional from start to finish. Specially I have to mention regarding prompt reply to all my email queries, It was super quick. I would thoroughly recommend Mel Chin. Many Thanks

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    Anonymous

    I'd highly recommend Redmans Solicitors. Mel was very helpful and assisted me throughout my case.

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    Anonymous

    Sacha was very thorough and very helpful, with great advice on when to act and when to wait on my case.

    Posted 2 months ago

    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!

    Posted 2 months ago

    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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    Anonymous

    Very quick and professional service , Rana was very helpful

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    James G

    Very professional, knowledgeable and kept me informed at every stage of my case. I would highly recommend Redmans.

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    Pravina P

    Chris was really good and help solve my issues with current company. I would recommend him to anyone.

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