It can be quite a shock when you get called into a meeting at work to be informed that your services are no longer required; and your employer also informs you that you to sign a settlement agreement before you go!
So if this ever happens to you, what should you do?
Be aware that you mustn’t sign the settlement agreement immediately.
As with anything to do with employment you should write down everything, just make a note of when you had the meeting, who with and what was said. These notes could help us in case we need to go back to your employer to negotiate on your behalf or indeed to potentially bring a claim against them in the event that a satisfactory agreement cannot be reached.
Why do I need to take independent legal advice on a settlement agreement?
Put simply, a settlement agreement can only become legally binding after you have received independent legal advice – the law requires that you fully understand the terms of the contract and its effect, and this should come from a qualified solicitor.
Your solicitor will then provide you with a signed certificate to confirm that they have provided this advice. You will need this to give to your employer at the same time that you return an approved settlement agreement.
Don’t worry, your employer usually pays for this advice.
The advantage of using a qualified solicitor rather than a legal advisor is that as well as advising you on the settlement agreement itself, we will consider whether or not you actually have any legal grounds against your employer.