It was back in 2013 when ACAS first published their guide to Settlement Agreements, it’s full of great information and advice for employees and employers, it’s particularly useful in providing a degree of protection for both parties where they have discussions around a possible termination of employment.
The guide outlines some recommended rules of engagement between both parties, and importantly what constitutes “improver behaviour” (in fact the guide has a good list of things they class as improper behaviour including ‘undue pressure’, ‘discrimination’ etc.).
Some of the advice covers areas that to allow the process to be seen as fair, some of the highlights include:
- Allowing a reasonable amount of time to consider the offer – (10 calendar days).
- Employers should consider extending this period if the employee is disabled (for example)
- Employers asking for shorter periods could be seen as giving undue pressure to the employee
- Employers can’t say before any disciplinary process has started that the employee will be dismissed if the Settlement Agreement isn’t accepted
- The employer can explain in a neutral language why the Settlement Agreement is being offered – and the guide does say that it would be helpful if the employee states clearly why the offer is been made.
- The employee can provide factual outcomes if an agreement isn’t reached
- Employees can’t threaten employers (unless Whistleblowing conditions are met)
- It is not ‘improper’ not to offer a reference
- Employers could consider how a Settlement Agreement being received out of the blue might be greeted by employees
- Employers should review their Settlement Agreements and related processes on a regular basis
Here we are just scraping the surface of the advice that ACAS provide, but it is worth everyone involved in these processes downloading and reading the Settlement Agreement guide.