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Martin Searle Solicitors

Why It Pays To Be A Best Practice Employer

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Fiona Martin, Director & Head of Employment Law at Martin Searle Solicitors, highlights the importance of obtaining employment law advice, prior to offering a Settlement Agreement or agreeing a COT3 Agreement.

Settlement Agreements can be a useful way of painlessly ending an employment relationship if offered as an alternative to undertaking a formal capability or conduct process.

Now that employees have to contact Acas before lodging a claim in the Employment Tribunal, employers also have the choice of entering into COT3s.

COT3 Agreements are legally binding contracts between an employer and an employee to settle actual or potential complaints to the Employment Tribunal. When a resolution is reached, an Acas Conciliator will record what has been agreed on a COT3 and once the wording is agreed, it is legally binding. This is why it is important to ensure that you obtain all the protection your business needs before finalising the wording.

With Settlement Agreements, you will have provided the Agreement to your employee as a way of terminating your employee’s employment contract and consequently you usually provide a financial contribution of between £350 – £500 plus VAT towards your employee obtaining independent legal advice.

If there is any sign of ‘undue pressure’ or ‘ambiguous propriety’ then any ‘protected conversations’ may be disclosable to a Tribunal. In addition, these should only be used for performance and conduct issues and will not cover any type of discrimination under the Equality Act. The recent EAT judgement on ‘protected conversations’, Faithorn Farrell Timms LLP v Bailey has caused confusion and this has resulted in it being remitted for re-consideration. This means employers still have to be cautious.

A mistake could mean that a small tax free enhancement offered to allow an employee to ‘save face’ could end up with the employee threatening to lodge a grievance and make claims in the Employment Tribunal unless a larger amount of compensation is offered. That’s why it pays to take specialist employment law advice before offering a Settlement Agreement or agreeing a COT3 Agreement.

This is why we are launching a campaign throughout August 2016 to highlight the importance of obtaining employment law advice before offering or entering into COT3 Agreements or Settlement Agreements.

Our campaign includes a half hour telephone advice service for both employers and employees, between 4pm – 6pm on Mondays and Thursdays, starting on Monday 1 August 2016. Our expert employment law team will offer free advice on the issues surrounding COT3 and Settlement Agreements so that employers can ensure that they are not doing anything which would compromise their reputation or their finances.

For free and confidential advice, employers and employees can call Martin Searle Solicitors legal helpline Mondays and Thursdays throughout August from 4pm – 6pm on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk

About the author

Fiona Martin

fiona-martin

I lead the employment teams in our solicitors’ offices in Brighton, Eastbourne, Shoreham, Gatwick & Crawley and Croydon. As founding Director, I am also responsible for the firm’s marketing. I provide expert opinion for the press, disseminate employment law round-ups through my employment law blog and campaign on important issues such as maternity and disability discrimination. I train employers and HR professionals to be best practice managers and I am also a CEDR accredited mediator.

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