Nobody would dispute that one of the sad repercussions of these difficult months is the fact that a large number of people may find themselves being made redundant or being offered a settlement agreement.
A settlement agreement is an agreement between you and your employer where you give up your right to bring any claim against the employer in exchange for a sum of compensation. In some settlement agreements the compensation sum can be quite high but in others the offer can be relatively modest.
A settlement agreement can cover situations where there is a potential redundancy, disciplinary, or where parties simply wish to no longer work together but the employer wants to comfort of knowing that the employee will never be able to bring a claim against them.
If you have been consulted by your Employer in relation to a redundancy situation and have been given a settlement agreement it is vital that you seek independent legal advice from a relevant advisor in relation to this to ensure it is legally binding. Your settlement agreement should contain certain information which the relevant advisor will need to ensure is contained in the agreement and which you will be made aware of. Such information includes the names of the parties involved, the amount of the redundancy payment and any other benefits or holiday accrued that you are entitled to. One of the most important aspects of the agreement is whether it contains a provision which waives the ability to claim statutory rights. The rights that are being waived must be specifically included, such as those relating to unfair dismissal, redundancy payments, discrimination claims or holiday pay.
To ensure that a settlement agreement is legally binding it needs to comply with the provisions of the Employment Rights Act 1996. Ensuring you get the correct advice regarding your rights and what the settlement contains is vitally important. To comply with the requirements of the Act a relevant independent advisor must be consulted and they must provide confirmation that they have advised an employee about the terms and effect of the agreement and, more importantly, in regards to the ability to pursue any further claims should the employee wish to do so.