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Case Study: Securing a Settlement Agreement as an Alternative to Redundancy and Placing an Employee on a Performance Improvement Plan

Employment Law Solicitors

Summary

How Fiona Martin, Employment Law solicitor based in our Haywards Heath office, helped an accountancy firm deal with an employee’s formal grievance against two managers.

The managers had raised performance concerns with this employee and settled this dispute using a Settlement Agreement instead of going through their formal Capability Procedure.

The situation

The CEO, June and one of her line managers, Jane, were concerned about Olivia, a senior case worker who was not using the correct processes to secure high enough sales. She was also reluctant to return to the office having worked from home since the start of the pandemic. They brought their concerns to her attention and Olivia raised a formal grievance that their comments were unfair.

We helped the senior management team conduct a fair grievance process and an independent manager held that their concerns were valid and raised appropriately in line with their Capability Policy. Olivia did not appeal this decision. Jane met with Olivia to discuss placing her on a Personal Improvement Plan (PIP). A list of concerns, setting out recent examples, were sent to her prior to the meeting so these could be discussed.

After this meeting, Olivia sent a sick note stating she was unfit to work for two weeks due to stress and anxiety. The company’s sickness policy provided for 6 months full pay and 6 months half pay.

What Martin Searle Solicitors did

Fiona advised that employees going on sick leave was a common problem when a manager put them on a PIP. She advised they should keep in touch with Olivia and persuade her to come back to work to deal with these issues. However, they would have to be sensitive to the fact that her GP had signed her off work.

June told Fiona that the business had changed in the last 2 years and Fiona suggested a restructure of the business, which would mean that Olivia’s role would be at risk of redundancy. Fiona advised that they should offer Olivia a Settlement Agreement, with compensation based on statutory redundancy, as an alternative to her going through a redundancy process.

An incentive was to offer to round up her number of years’ service as she was 6 weeks short of another complete year.

A Settlement Agreement was offered giving Olivia 10 days to decide whether to accept.

The result

Olivia took independent legal advice and decided to accept the offer conditional on her receiving a basic reference.

June was pleased with this result as she would have had to conduct a fair redundancy consultation while Olivia was on sick leave. The team would not have been able to cope with the additional work caused by Olivia’s absence. The new structure enabled June to recruit two junior case managers immediately to assist members of the team, who would be based in their office.

For expert advice about dealing with grievances offering Settlement Agreements where there are performance concerns, potential redundancies or conduct issues, please contact our Employment Law Team on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk.

Martin Searle Solicitors, 9 Marlborough Place, Brighton, BN1 1UB
T: 01273 609 991 info@ms-solicitors.co.uk

Martin Searle Solicitors is the trading name of ms solicitors ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and is registered in England under company number 05067303.

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