Pre-termination negotiations no longer admissible as evidence for ordinary unfair dismissal claims
21st August, 2013
The introduction of various changes to employment legislation was brought in on 29 July, which will inevitably impact on employers and employees alike. On this day alone we have seen the introduction of tribunal fees, new tribunal rules, a reduced cap on compensatory awards for unfair dismissal and importantly, the introduction of new laws to promote early settlement of employment disputes.
Perhaps one of the most significant changes is that to settlement agreements. Settlement agreements, formally known as compromise agreements, are legally binding contracts that can be used to end the employment relationship on agreed terms and settle potential employment tribunal claims.
The new legislation, which is contained in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, provides that any pre-termination negotiations in respect of settlement agreements cannot now be used as evidence in an ordinary unfair dismissal claim. Essentially, what this means is that an employer can now approach employees about potential termination of employment even where there is no prior dispute.
Before 29 July 2013 there needed to be an existing dispute before ‘without prejudice’ discussions could take place.
However, employers must be aware that the confidential protection falls away where there is deemed to be ‘improper behaviour’ or a claim which is not straightforward ordinary dismissal, such as automatic unfair dismissal or discrimination.
Whilst it remains that settlement agreements should be in writing with ten calendar days for the employee to respond, and that the employee must seek legal advice, Aaron & Partners urges any manager considering pre-termination negotiations to also seek legal advice as there are some important limitations to the new rules.
For information or advice in relation to pre-negotiations or assistance with drafting, negotiating or finalising settlement agreements, please contact Helen Watson,on 01244 405565 or email [email protected].
You might also be interested in...
3rd July, 2020
Brief Background Mr & Mrs Villier married in 1995, and lived in Scotland together until separation in 2012. Once separated, the wife moved to England, but the husband remained living in Scotland. In July 2013 the wife issued a divorce petition in England, but in October 2014 the husband lodged a writ for divorce in Scotland. As the... Read More »
1st July, 2020
Agricultural property relief from Inheritance Tax has long been a valuable relief for estates, which when available can... Read More »
29th June, 2020
In May 2020 the UK Government released additional guidance in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic, this time in... Read More »