Our settlement agreement solicitors are vastly experienced and are here to assist if you’ve been offered this kind of agreement by your employer.
Our specialist legal experts will ensure that you secure the best possible outcome as you move forward with your career. We’re particularly experienced in working with and representing employees in high-seniority roles, making sure you negotiate a settlement agreement with your employer from a position of strength.
- A settlement agreement can be used to end your employment on agreed terms or to resolve an employment dispute.
- When you sign the agreement, you waive all of your rights to take your employer to a court or tribunal, so it is a statutory requirement that you receive independent legal advice on its terms.
- Settlement agreements are complex and you will need expert advice. Our specialist employment lawyers will guide you through the agreement and ensure that you walk away with the best possible package.
Have you been given a settlement agreement to sign?
You need to be sure that you’re receiving the best deal possible. Settlement agreements can be used if you are leaving a business, to end an employment relationship on agreed terms, or to resolve a dispute in an ongoing employment relationship. A settlement agreement will usually offer you a lump sum payment and, in return, you sign away your rights to ever bring a claim against your employer.
The complex nature of settlement agreements makes it essential to instruct someone who will take you through the entire agreement, so you fully understand each clause and are satisfied you are receiving the best deal possible.
What is a settlement agreement?
A settlement agreement is a legally binding contract between an employer and an employee which sets out the terms and conditions for ending the employment relationship. It typically includes details on the payment of any outstanding wages, severance pay, and confidentiality clauses.
As an employee, if you are in dispute with your employer, you have a right to pursue the matter in the court or tribunal. The exception to this is when you and your employer have entered into a formal settlement agreement that fulfils strict statutory requirements. A settlement agreement, which used to be known as a compromise agreement, is a legal document that officially ends your employment on a set of terms laid out in the agreement.
Why have I been asked to enter into a settlement agreement?
Once a valid settlement agreement has been signed by both parties, you will have waived your right to go to an employment tribunal about any type of claim listed in the agreement. Your employer may ask you to enter into a settlement agreement because they are concerned that you may have a claim against their business or because they do this as routine when an employee leaves their organisation.
Do I need a solicitor before I sign a settlement agreement?
You are required to get independent legal advice before you sign a settlement agreement, but your employer will usually pay a fixed cost for this. This is needed because a settlement agreement will mean that you sign away certain legal rights and you need to be fully informed about what this means, now and in the future, before agreeing to it.
How much would a settlement agreement cost me?
The fees for a settlement agreement depend on how complicated it is and how much negotiation is required for all parties agreeing to the terms. We will, however, agree rates with you up front so there are no surprises.
As it is a statutory requirement that independent legal advice is received, employers will frequently agree to a contribution to your legal costs at a fixed rate. If this has not been discussed it may be worth raising this matter with your employer.
Does a settlement agreement need to be witnessed?
Some settlement agreements may require a witness signature, but every settlement agreement requires you to obtain independent legal advice to ensure that you understand the terms of the agreement and the potential consequences of certain rights that you are waiving when you sign it.
As experienced settlement agreement solicitors, we will not only sign any of the necessary paperwork. We will also offer expert advice regarding your interests, to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome from the agreement.
How to get a settlement agreement at work?
If you wish to leave your current employer and have a dispute or grievance with them that could make it difficult to leave under normal circumstances, you may want to ask them if they will offer you a settlement agreement.
It is usually the employer who takes the step of offering a settlement agreement first, but there is no law against the employee asking for one. The employer is under no obligation to agree to do so.
If you want expert employment law advice about leaving a role, we can give specialist support at every stage and can help with settlement agreement negotiations on your behalf if required.
What kind of terms are usually included in a settlement agreement?
Every settlement agreement is unique, along with the circumstances and the parties involved, so the terms included can vary significantly. However, some common terms that many settlement agreements include are likely to be:
- The amount of compensation that your employer agrees to pay you, and when this will be paid i.e. in a lump sum or over instalments on specific dates and any tax implications
- The end date of your employment
- An outline of the claims that you cannot make once the agreement is signed
- A confidentiality clause, so you can’t discuss the settlement agreement with anyone once it has been signed
- Any restrictive covenants, such as you not being permitted to work for a direct competitor for a set period of time
- Agreed terms for the reference that your employer will provide
- Details of the employer’s contribution to your legal costs.
If you are unhappy with the terms laid out, your settlement agreement lawyer can help to negotiate with your employer to ensure that your best interests are represented in the final outcome.
What happens if you breach a settlement agreement?
If you breach the terms of a settlement agreement, you might be subject to a claim through court from your former employer. Settlement agreements are legally binding contracts that both parties are obliged to keep to. For example, there may be a confidentiality clause in your agreement that means you must keep the settlement sum paid to you a private matter. If you break this, your former employer might choose to make a claim against you, which could mean you have to repay the money paid to you.
For any advice in relation to settlement agreements, our expert team of settlement agreement lawyers can help to make sure that your interests are protected and that any terms included are reasonable.
What happens if I refuse to sign a settlement agreement?
You are under no legal obligation to sign a settlement agreement that is offered to you by your employer as a way to terminate your employment. Signing a settlement agreement is voluntary and there could be circumstances involved which might make you unwilling to agree to the terms.
It might be that you do not wish to waive your rights to bring a potential claim against your former employer in the future, or you may not be satisfied with a settlement sum or any of the other terms. Your employer is still likely to terminate your employment even if you do not agree to sign the settlement agreement. However, as experienced settlement agreements solicitors, we may be able to help you to negotiate with your employer so that an agreement can be made that is acceptable to all parties.
Are there drawbacks to a settlement agreement?
It’s important to take all aspects into account before signing a settlement agreement, which includes looking at potential drawbacks. This is why your settlement agreement lawyer is there, to ensure you understand all sides of the proposed agreement and can make decisions based on this.
- Some of the potential drawbacks could include:
- Removing your right to make any future employment tribunal claim
- Failure to find an agreement with your employer can sometimes complicate things further
- Putting restrictions on your future career, such a restrictive covenant that doesn’t allow you to work for a direct competitor for a set period of time.
Looking at the pros and cons of the settlement agreement offered to you is why your solicitor is there. They can take all pros and cons into account and ensure that you understand exactly what signing the agreement will mean, both now and into the future. If we believe that a settlement agreement isn’t the right option for you in your particular set of circumstances, we will look at all options and help you to find a way forward with your career.
How can Moore Barlow assist you?
As you are renouncing your rights to ever bring a claim against your employer, you need to be absolutely certain you are satisfied with the terms of the agreement before you sign it. The agreement will have to cover many areas and so will inevitably be complicated, which means it’s vital you have expert legal advice from someone who can negotiate on your behalf.
Our specialist employment solicitors at Moore Barlow have a vast range of experience in advising on and negotiating the terms of settlement agreements. Rather than you merely signing off on the paperwork, our settlement agreement lawyers will examine it closely first and tell you whether the deal being proposed is good for you or you should negotiate for a better package.
With many years as compromise agreement solicitors and now settlement agreement solicitors, our expertise and experience range from simple, straightforward agreements to complex, contentious ones, meaning that we can advise you in relation to your specific set of circumstances, so that you walk away with the best possible agreement.
We have offices in London, Southampton, Woking, Richmond, Lymington and Guildford and we offer specialist support and expert advice to clients all over the country.
If you are based in the city of London or the Richmond area, our specialist settlement agreement solicitors are ideally placed in these locations to help with any legal advice or support that you might need as you move on to the next stage of your career.
For those based in Southampton or the surrounding area, the expert team in our Southampton office can help with any employment law support required, including help negotiating settlement agreements.
Our employment law specialists in our Guildford, Lymington and Woking offices also have a proven track record when it comes to helping our clients achieve the best possible outcome from settlement agreement negotiations and move forwards onto their next role.
With our experienced team based across the South East of England working diligently on your behalf, we pride ourselves on offering best-in-class services and always ensure that you’re up to date with how things are progressing and the status of proceedings.
We offer specialist support and expert advice to clients all over the country.
Get in touch with us to find out how we can help you with our settlement agreement services.