Employment is a complex area of the law, which is constantly evolving with new legislation. AWB Charlesworth Solicitors Limited provide practical, cost effective advice in line with current best practice.
For Employees- introduction
At AWB Charlesworth our employment team understand the effect employment issues can have on your day to day life, and seek to help you work through these issues by providing personal, cost effective, practical advice every step of the way.
At this difficult time, AWB Charlesworth can offer you support and guidance on a wide range of employment issues.
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Many employers, when terminating an employee’s employment contract, will offer the employee a sum of money in return for them entering into a settlement agreement terminating their employment and preventing them from bringing employment related claims against the employer. If your employer offers you a settlement agreement, what do you need to know?
What is a settlement agreement?
A settlement agreement, previously known as a compromise agreement, is a legally binding agreement which allows an employer to make a payment to an employee if they agree to waive their right to make an employment claim in relation to claims covered by the agreement. Employers often offer this type of agreement to an employee in order to end the employment relationship.
For a settlement agreement to be binding it must be in writing, reference the claims that the employee is waiving and the employee must receive advice from a relevant independent adviser, often a solicitor, who will provide a certificate of advice.
Independent legal advice
As the agreement requires the employee to seek independent legal advice, it is usual for the employer to include a clause offering to pay an amount towards the legal fees of the independent adviser of the employee’s choosing.
Our employment team can help you to understand the terms of the agreement and can negotiate better terms with your employer. They can also assess why you are being given the settlement agreement and help you weigh up your options if you have a potential claim against your employer.
There is no requirement for you to sign the agreement if you are not happy with the terms and if you choose not to, you will retain your full employment rights to claim against the employer. However it is worth assessing the time and expense in issuing and pursuing a claim against the offer that the employer is making.
Our team will be happy to meet you at any of our 4 offices across the Aire Valley and are always on hand to give advice and assistance.
Has your employer made you redundant? All employees made redundant are entitled to notice or notice pay and some may also be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment.
In order to be entitled to the statutory redundancy payment you must be an employee with at least two years’ continuous service with the employer.
Currently the redundancy payment is calculated as:
- half a week’s pay for each completed year of employment between the ages of 18 and 21;
- a week’s pay for each completed year of employment between the ages of 22 and 40;
- a week and a half’s pay for each completed year of employment over the age of 40.
However from April 2016 a week’s pay is capped at £479 and you can only claim for a maximum of 20 years’ service.
If your employer has failed to pay any amount due to you or has failed to follow the correct redundancy procedure then our specialist employment team can help.
Is your employer treating you differently to other employees at work? The law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees, workers and potential employees due to any of the following protected characteristics:
- Gender reassignment;
- Marriage and civil partnership;
- Pregnancy and maternity;
- Religion or belief;
- Sex; and
- Sexual orientation.
If you believe an employer has treated you differently due to any of the above characteristics then our specialist employment team can advise you of your options and any potential claim you may have against the employer.
Maternity Leave Benefits
Many employment contracts incorporate benefits for employees such as private healthcare, pensions and childcare vouchers. When an employee takes maternity leave the employer can be left paying for various contractual benefits for up to 52 weeks, but could they prevent you from receiving these benefits?
Maternity leave is applicable regardless of the length of service an employee has with the business and the duration of the leave could be substantial. The entitlement for maternity leave is up to 52 weeks, 26 of ordinary maternity leave and 26 of additional maternity leave. During these weeks the contract of employment is still in force, therefore the employee can and should still receive all the contractual benefits she would normally be entitled to receive such as private healthcare or childcare vouchers.
Under s18 of the Equality Act 2010 both pregnancy and maternity are protected, meaning that an employer treating an employee unfavorably due to either characteristic will be discriminating against that employee. To stop the contractual benefits of an employee on maternity leave would be to directly discriminate against her. With damages for discrimination claims currently uncapped, employers found to be discriminating against employees could find themselves paying out large sums awarded by the court.
However with regard to pensions, during the ordinary and paid additional maternity leave the contributions must continue as normal, but during the unpaid additional maternity leave there is no obligation for employer contributions to be made unless it is written into your employment contract.
Employees rights to Legal Representation in Disciplinary Hearings
When an employee has a formal disciplinary hearing there is no actual statutory right for them to have legal representation.
However, it has been argued that an employee’s legal right should extend to legal representation.
Currently workers have a legal right to be accompanied by a fellow worker or trade union official of their choice at any formal disciplinary interview, but not to legal representation. Conversely, there is nothing to prevent an employer from granting a contractual right to legal representation at disciplinary hearings.
Doctors employed by the NHS are contractually entitled to be represented by a qualified lawyer at disciplinary hearings commenced on the grounds of capability or conduct in order to “Maintain high professional standards in the NHS”.
Whether or not as an employee you are allowed to be accompanied by a lawyer will generally depend upon the individual factual situation.