Clients often ask us what the appropriate way is to request a settlement agreement. The answer to this question depends on the factual circumstances of the case at the time that the employee is considering asking for one.
If you are in a dispute with your employer as a result of being poorly treated, the first thing to do is to seek legal advice about the situation.
Employees can seek free legal advice from a legal advice centre or the Citizens Advice Bureau. Alternatively, you may choose to instruct a solicitor to take advice on your situation.
Most law firms will offer a free introductory conversation to determine whether or not they would be able to assist with the dispute.
If you are in a legal dispute at your workplace and you want to ask for a settlement agreement, then typically, this would be done alongside either a grievance written by yourself or a formal letter written by the lawyer setting out the claims which may have arisen.
If a grievance is sent by the individual directly to their employer or if a letter is sent from a solicitor setting out the basis of the legal claim, the employee is likely to be in a better position to obtain a settlement agreement alongside this.
In this case, the solicitor would write a letter headed “without prejudice” which details the settlement that the individual will agree to in order to compromise their claims against the employer. In this case, the employee may ask for a settlement agreement in the terms which best suit them including all of the circumstances surrounding the departure.
Can I request a settlement agreement?
An alternative way to ask is to engage in a protected conversation with your employer. If you wish to engage in a protected conversation, you should seek legal advice on the process for doing so before commencing this approach. During a protected conversation, you can speak “off the record” with your employer about what you would like to achieve with a view to concluding the dispute. This could include details of the chosen reason for termination, the date went it will take place, and the details related to settlement payments to be paid upon your departure.
Once all of the terms have been agreed upon between the employee and the employer, they need to be written up in the form of a settlement agreement.
When you ask for a settlement agreement, it is very important that you follow the correct process when doing so. The reason for this is that if you simply request one from your employer, you may prejudice your position in relation to any legal claims which have arisen.
For this reason, when you ask your employer for a settlement agreement, it is essential to do so via a protected conversation or alternatively, via without-prejudice correspondence, drafted and sent by the legal adviser.
During a protected conversation or within without-prejudice correspondence, you are free to request settlement terms including all of the terms surrounding your departure without this adversely affecting your legal position because this approach is genuinely off the record.
So the answer to the question “How do I ask for a settlement agreement?” is to ensure that when doing so the conversation or correspondence remains off the record so that it cannot be used against you in any future litigation concerning your workplace dispute.
With over 10 years of experience in employment law matters, David Philip Harris specialises in providing legal advice on settlement agreements to both employees and employers throughout the UK. David’s opinion and advice are frequently sought after as he contributes often to BBC Radio Berkshire and the People Management Magazine. David Is a long-standing member of The Employment Lawyers Association and The Law Society.