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Settlement Agreement Solicitors in Preston

We offer quick turnaround on our services, no cost to you – your employer pays

When your employer is offering you a settlement agreement – it’s a requirement that you receive independent legal advice in order to ensure you fully understand the terms of any arrangement before signing. Poole Alcock’s specialist employment law team will work with you to review any offers you have received and then ensure that your rights are protected and that your employer has fulfilled all of their legal obligations to you. 

We’re committed to protecting your interests and securing fair compensation for you from your employer. We’ll always work in a way that caters to your needs, and will take the time to learn about your specific circumstances, allowing us to work in an effective and timely manner.

Get in touch today to learn more about how Poole Alcock can support you through this challenging time.

 

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Our Preston Solicitors' Offices

Our Preston office is located just outside the city-centre with convenient links to local bus routes.

Poole Alcock Solicitors - Preston

Unit 5, Albert Edward House, The Pavillions, Ashton-on-Ribble, Preston, Lancashire PR2 2YB
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01772 287459

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preston@poolealcock.co.uk

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Opening Times

Monday – Friday: 9am – 5:15pm
Weekends: Closed

Settlement Agreement Lawyers in Preston

Our solicitors have experience in providing assistance with settlement agreements for clients across the UK. No matter the details of your circumstances or proposed arrangement, we’ll be able to provide assistance and will ensure you get the best possible outcome. We’ll protect your rights, ensuring that your employer meets all of their required obligations.

How do we assist with settlement agreements?

Independent Legal Advice - Your Employer Pays

Your employer will pay on your behalf for our legal services.

Same Day Service Available

At Poole Alcock, we offer same-day service on settlement agreements to ensure you receive expert advice when it matters most.

Accessible Legal Services

Our solicitors are able to provide expert assistance on your settlement agreement remotely by either using Zoom or a phone call.

Experienced Solicitors

Your settlement agreement matter will always be handled professionally and effectively when you work with Poole Alcock. We're committed to delivering the best possible outcome for you.

How much Will I Be Owed?

To check how much your settlement agreement might be worth, feel free to use our handy Settlement Agreement Calculator.

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Expert Assistance with Settlement Agreements

We will ensure that you fully understand the terms of your settlement agreement, and that you are aware of your rights as an employee. We are committed to delivering the best possible outcome for you, and as a result we will negotiate with your employer if we believe they are not compensating you fairly.

Throughout the process, your settlement agreement will be handled by a knowledgeable and experienced solicitor. Our team has years of experience in completing work of this nature, and as such will easily be able to identify if your employer is treating you unfairly, and will fight for you to receive the compensation that you deserve.

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Resolving Challenging Disputes

We acknowledge that if you’re seeking legal assistance with a settlement agreement, you’re likely facing a life-changing set of circumstances. Our team of solicitors will always handle your matter with the utmost respect and sensitivity, ensuring that you’re supported throughout this process.

We understand that when it comes to resolving matters of this nature, it’s paramount that we do so effectively and swiftly. You won’t experience any unnecessary delays and we’ll always fight for your interests, with our solicitors being committed to delivering the best outcome for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please see below for our most frequently-asked questions.

What claims am I settling?

Most settlement agreements are intended to cover every possible type of claim you could bring against your employer – they are designed to be a clean break and draw a line under absolutely everything. That means you will waive/surrender your rights to bring statutory and contractual claims and certain claims for personal injury.

That said, there are very few exceptions to this: some types of claim cannot be waived even with a settlement agreement. The most common example is personal injury where you are unaware of the injury at the time of signing the agreement. For example, if you were unwittingly exposed to asbestos at work, the settlement agreement wouldn’t prevent you from bringing legal action against your employer if you discovered, years later, you had developed asbestosis due to that exposure.

If you are an employee and you need advice on the terms and effect of a Settlement Agreement then please do get in touch. We can advise you on the options available to you and work out whether it is in your best interest to accept the settlement or whether there may be scope for negotiating a better deal for you.

If you are an employer and are considering using a Settlement Agreement to end an employment relationship then please do get in touch as we’d be happy to discuss your options and what a fair commercial settlement might look like and draft any required documentation.

I’ve been offered a settlement agreement – do I have to accept it?

Absolutely not.

However, do remember that depending on the circumstances, your employer might be able to dismiss you fairly anyway. If you reject the offer, you might not get this offered to you again. If you feel you’ve been treated badly, you could still bring a claim after turning down a settlement, but you might not be awarded as much money as you were offered initially. You might also incur legal costs in bringing a claim and time and the stress of litigation also needs to be considered.

The terms of a settlement must be agreed by both parties and we will be able to advise you about what would be reasonable in your circumstances.

It is also worth noting that if you do take advice from a solicitor about the terms and effects of a Settlement Agreement, but you decide not to accept, you may still have to pay your solicitor’s fees. Your employer’s legal fee contribution is only valid if you sign the settlement agreement.

What would it cost and how can I pay for it?

As it is a legal requirement for employees to have independent legal advice on the terms and effect of a Settlement Agreement, it is common practice (although not a legal requirement in itself) for employers to agree to contribute towards your legal fees and for this to be paid to us directly by your employer. At Poole Alcock we can usually cap our fees at your employer’s contribution to ensure that you are not out of pocket as a result of the Settlement Agreement process.

How do I negotiate a better deal?

It’s important that you fully understand what leverage you have in this regard and that you are able to manage your own expectations. There’s no use in asking for 2 years’ salary as a termination payment if your claim is for unfair dismissal where the maximum that a Tribunal can award is 12 months’ salary (together with any basic award). On the other hand, if your role has been placed at risk of Redundancy and your employer’s settlement offer is less than your statutory redundancy entitlement then it wouldn’t make much sense for you to accept their offer.

With negotiating a Settlement Agreement, you also need to consider whether there are any other ways that you can enhance to terms of the Agreement. Aside from the financial aspect of the Agreement, this could be to agree that; you keep certain company property after the Termination Date, the employer removes or reduces the impact of any post-termination restrictions or for you to be placed on garden leave during your notice period (or for you to receive a payment in lieu of your notice period if this would be preferred).

The success of any negotiations will ultimately depend on an employer’s willingness to engage. Your employer might be worried about damage to their reputation or the expense of defending a tribunal claim. On the other hand, they may be perfectly prepared and content to defend any claims if their commercial offer for settling isn’t accepted. We can discuss and formulate the best strategy depending on your employer’s motivations and anxieties.

Are there any disadvantages to a Settlement Agreement?

Of course; depending on how the process is managed, this could easily jeopardise the ongoing relationship if a Settlement is not reached. Likewise, this may impact on staff morale if it’s being used as a substitute for good HR and management practices. 

In addition (for employers), as Settlement Agreements usually provide an enhanced payment to incentivise an employee to sign it, they can be quite costly. Although this should be offset against the potential long-term savings – it avoids the need to carry out the potentially lengthy and convoluted process and removes the risk of getting that process wrong and landing yourself a Tribunal claim against a disgruntled employee.

What are the benefits of signing a Settlement Agreement?

Settlement Agreements allow for a clean break and can be a speedy, stress-free and cost-efficient way of concluding the employment relationship or resolving an existing dispute. This gives an employer certainty and reduces anxiety around an employee potentially bringing a claim against it. The employee usually receives a payment that they wouldn’t ordinarily be entitled to and avoids the need to commence time-consuming, stressful and costly litigation.

For both employers and employees, the terms can be mutually agreed which means that a Settlement Agreement may provide for an agreed reference and permit an employee to make an announcement to colleagues in relation to their departure.

Generally, a tax-free payment of up to £30,000 can be paid to an employee as compensation under the terms of a Settlement Agreement

As Settlement Agreements are only valid once you have taken independent legal advice on its terms, employers usually provide a legal fee contribution. Depending on what the employer is contributing, there is usually nothing for the employee to pay. As it’s a legal requirement for independent legal advice, this provides an opportunity for the employee’s solicitor to check through the agreement to make sure that the settlement package amounts to a fair deal.

How much money should I receive under a Settlement Agreement? 

Payments could include contractual entitlements such as salary, notice pay and payment for any accrued but untaken annual leave. It may also provide payments for bonuses and commission depending on the circumstances. It is likely to also include any statutory entitlements i.e. statutory redundancy payment in a redundancy situation. 

A Settlement Agreement may also provide for an ex gratia payment as compensation for an employee’s loss of office. This is usually the incentive for an employee to sign the agreement but the actual payments will be very much dependent on the circumstances of each particular case. There are a number of factors to consider, such as; 

  • the length of continuous employment, the employee’s salary and contractual entitlements; 
  • the value and costs associated with any potential claims;
  • the circumstances around why the Settlement Agreement is being offered; and
  • how long it is likely to take to settle the ‘dispute’.

Where an employer has taken steps to fairly dismiss an employee, an employee may be happy to leave with their notice pay and an agreed factual reference. For employees whose employer has breached their employment rights, the figures could be much higher.

It’s important that the deal struck is fair. But each case can be completely different and it will entirely depend on the particular circumstances. Here are some examples:

  • Your role is redundant and your employer has suggested a Settlement Agreement as an alternative to going through a consultation process. You might not get any extra redundancy pay but in return for signing the agreement, you might be paid in lieu of working your notice. In some situations, employers offer enhanced redundancy payments to incentivise the signing of the Agreement.
  • Your employer has carried out an investigation into allegations of gross misconduct and found that there are grounds to proceed to a disciplinary hearing where the likely outcome might be your dismissal. You might be offered a settlement agreement as an alternative to being dealt with in line with the normal procedure. In this scenario, rather than money, your employer might offer to provide you with a basic reference, allowing you to find a new job without the stress of going through a hearing or risking a dismissal on your record.
  • You have brought an unfair dismissal claim against your former employer. The company will want to avoid the matter going to the employment tribunal and proceeding through to a final hearing. A settlement agreement can be used to settle the claim for an amount agreed between the parties. This might not be for the full value of the claim, however. Under these circumstances there is a compromise to be had. It might not be the amount to you expect to receive, but you do avoid the whole tribunal process which can be very time consuming and stressful. It also means that you avoid cost. Even if you win your claim, you will not be able to recover these costs from the losing party (except under exceptional circumstances).
  • You have brought a discrimination claim against your employer. The company is adamant that the claim is false but might be prepared to settle the claim out of court under a settlement agreement to save the cost of defending it and to avoid any potential reputational damage. They may offer only a fraction of the potential value of the claim and generally this is no more than it would have cost them to defend it.
  • You have a terminal illness and your health is failing. You are classed as a disabled person and as such are protected against disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. When you are no longer able to work (even when your employer has made adjustments for you), you might agree to resign in return for an ‘ex gratia payment’. Ex gratia means money to which you have no contractual entitlement. To ensure you won’t later decide to bring a claim of disability discrimination, your employer might ask you to sign a settlement agreement.
My settlement agreement says ‘without prejudice’ – what does that mean?

It means the draft agreement, and negotiations around it, is ‘off the record’ and cannot be shown to a court as evidence of admissions against either party. The legal concept of ‘without prejudice’ is based on the principle that it’s helpful for parties to speak freely when trying to come to an agreement to settle an existing dispute. If they know that anything they say in these discussions cannot be used as evidence against them, it allows the parties to be more open.

In what situations can a Settlement Agreement be used?

Settlement Agreements are often proposed in a genuine attempt to settle an existing dispute. The alternative to a Settlement Agreement usually entails a long drawn out process that neither party wishes to follow. 

For example, where the employee is not performing well or and neither party wishes to go through a long capability process – a settlement agreement could be proposed as an alternative to this. It could also be used where there are allegations of gross misconduct – rather than proceeding with a disciplinary procedure and running the risk of a summary dismissal, employees might be able to agree a payment in lieu of notice and an agreed reference.

Another common scenario where Settlement Agreements are used is in a redundancy situation to record the terms of a voluntary redundancy which avoids the need for a potentially lengthy and stressful redundancy process.

What do you check?

We check the content of your settlement agreement, making sure you understand the terms and are aware of your rights. We also consider whether or not they are offering you enough money, and if not then we will negotiate this with your employer.

How are settlement agreements treated for tax purposes?

The general position for payments provided for under the remit of the Settlement Agreement is as follows:

Contractual Payments should be taxed and subjected to NICs in the usual way – that is to say, payments made arising from an obligation to make the payments under the contract of employment. This includes payment relating to benefits in kind, notice pay (or payment in lieu of notice), salary, bonus or commission payments.

Termination Payments – this includes non-contractual payments relating to loss of office. For example ex-gratia payments, compensation for breach of statutory rights and redundancy payments. The first £30,000 of the total termination payment may be exempt from tax and NIC. Any excess above this threshold should be taxed and subjected to NICs appropriately.

It is important that the payments arising under the Settlement Agreement are taxed and subject to NIC appropriately. Whilst it is the primary responsibility of the Employer to ensure this, it is common for the Settlement Agreement to provide for a specific tax indemnity to re-allocate this risk to the Employee.

How can you help?

We will advise you on your settlement/compromise agreements, ensuring you understand your rights. We will also negotiate with your employer if we think you are entitled to more. Our solicitors understand the complexities of dealing with compromise or settlement agreements and will provide you with fair advice.

What is a settlement agreement?

A settlement agreement is a contract where you and your employer agree to resolve a particular employment issue (or issues) on specific agreed terms. Under the terms of a Settlement Agreement, you will give up your right to bring any claims against your employer, in return for a sum of money (a Termination Payment).

It is commonly used where the employment relationship is about to end but could also be used to settle an existing dispute where the employment relationship is ongoing.

Meet The Team

What people say about us

Excellent communication and response times, felt relieved at the efficiency and friendliness of everyone I spoke to. Jamie and Kellie were fantastic and I am so grateful for the excellent service I received.

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