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Settlement Agreements – Employees

HOW CAN I GET THE BEST DEAL UNDER A SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT?

At ELP Arbuthnott McClanachan we deal with new Settlement Agreement cases on a daily basis. You may never have come across a Settlement Agreement before, but we can advise you on what is a good deal, what is a bad deal, what you should negotiate on, and what else you need to do to protect yourself. And we can do all the work for you!

Call us today 0131 554 8649 or email employmentlaw@elpamsolicitors.co.uk

ELP are Edinburgh’s experts in Settlement Agreements. We are specialist employment law solicitors, and we deal with all aspects of employment law and Settlement Agreements on a daily basis.

If your employer has issued you with a Settlement Agreement you should contact us straight away for a no-obligation discussion. We guarantee:

We have provided some information below in relation to questions which we are commonly asked about Settlement Agreements. If you feel that we can be of assistance please do not hesitate to telephone or email us in the first instance. We appreciate that employment law situations can be sensitive and even upsetting, and for that reason we try to ensure that our clients feel as comfortable as possible when dealing with us.

Why Use ELP – Employment Law Practice?

ELP are Edinburgh’s leading specialists in Settlement Agreements. We are specialist employment law solicitors, and we deal with all aspects of employment law and Settlement Agreements on a daily basis.

Settlement Agreements can cover a whole range of issues, such as compensation payments, notice pay, holiday pay, share options, pension arrangements, employment references, confidentiality, intellectual property, and restrictive covenants (which seek to restrict employees’ ability to work in certain areas after their employment ends). All of these issues can involve complicated points of Employment Law, and it is important that employees take advice from a specialist Employment Law solicitor who can give well-informed advice. ELP seek to ensure that any payments or benefits being offered to employees are sufficient to justify them signing a Settlement Agreement and waiving their legal rights against the employer. We also seek to ensure that the other terms of any Settlement Agreement are reasonable, and will not adversely affect the employee in the future. Settlement Agreements can also raise complicated tax questions, and we seek to ensure that employees understand these before proceeding.

At ELP we are in a position to offer employees the best possible service on all aspects of Settlement Agreements and Employment Law. Here are some examples of the benefits that we offer our clients:

What is a Settlement Agreement?

A Settlement Agreement is a contract which employees often enter into with employers when they are leaving their employment. Settlement Agreements are particular kinds of contracts which derive from Employment Law legislation. They have to be in a specific form to be effective, and they can only be entered into if the employee has been advised by a specialist Employment Law adviser, such as an Employment Law solicitor.

Settlement Agreements are entered into in a variety of situations. The most common situation is when an employee has agreed with the employer that the employment is to come to an end, for example because of redundancy, or by mutual agreement, and the employer has proposed a severance package under which the employee will receive various benefits on leaving the employer. The kinds of benefits typically covered by a Settlement Agreement include compensation for loss of office or employment, notice pay, holiday pay, share options, pension arrangements, employment references, and any other benefits arising from the employment itself.

Settlement Agreements are also entered into in more contentious situations where there has been a dispute between the employee and the employer, or where there is a potential dispute between them. For example, an employee may feel that there has been an unfair dismissal, or an unfair selection for redundancy. The employee may feel that there has been a breach of the employment contract, or that the employer has discriminated against the employee unlawfully. The employee may simply feel that the employer has been treating the employee unfairly. Either the employee or the employer may feel that the employment relationship is not working, and that the best thing to do is to bring it to an end by way of a Settlement Agreement. In all of these situations the employee will have potential Employment Law claims against the employer, and Employment Law provides that the only way in which to validly settle these claims is through a Settlement Agreement. Settlement Agreements can be entered into either before the employment relationship ends, after it has ended, or even while Employment Tribunal proceedings are ongoing.

Settlement Agreements have different purposes for different parties. For employees, Settlement Agreements provide details of the payments and benefits which the employee is to receive on leaving the employer, and they give the employee a contractual right to receive them. Settlement Agreements can also provide that the employee will receive a particular form of employment reference in the future. For employers, the real purpose of Settlement Agreements is to allow them to agree with the employee that in exchange for giving the employee certain payments and benefits, the employee will agree that there will be no future legal action by the employee against the employer. Settlement Agreements are designed to give the employer peace of mind, in that they provide that the employee will waive any Employment Law claims that might be made against the employer.

Because an employee who signs a Settlement Agreement is likely to be agreeing to waive their Employment Law rights against the employer, Employment Law legislation has put in place strict requirements that have to be followed when entering into a Settlement Agreement. These requirements, in particular the requirement that the employee be advised by a specialist Employment Law adviser, such as an Employment Law solicitor, are designed to safeguard the interests of the employee, and to ensure that the employee does not waive any Employment Law claims without receiving proper professional advice.

At ELP we are in a unique position to provide employees with the best possible advice on all aspects of Settlement Agreements and Employment Law.

Who Can Advise Employees On Settlement Agreements?

In order to protect the interests of employees, Employment Law legislation provides that employees can only validly waive their Employment Law claims if they have been advised by a specialist Employment Law adviser, such as an Employment Law solicitor.

When an employee enters into a Settlement Agreement, they must receive advice from what is known in the legislation as a “Relevant Independent Adviser”. Employers will insist that employees do this. The reason for this is that if an employee does not take the proper advice, the employer could find that the employee does not validly waive all Employment Law claims, and that the employee can still take legal action against the employer despite the employer having made payments to the employee under a Settlement Agreement!

“Relevant Independent Advisers” include not only Employment Law solicitors, but also some some trade union representatives and advice centre workers. However, we would strongly recommend that employees take advice on Settlement Agreements from specialist Employment Law solicitors such as ourselves. The reason for this is that Employment Law is a complicated area, and it is important that employees obtain specialist advice before they sign away their Employment Law rights.

At ELP we are in a position to provide employees with the best possible advice on all aspects of Settlement Agreements and Employment Law.

Possibility of Free Legal Advice:

Although Settlement Agreements are beneficial for employees, in that they can provide employees with a contractual entitlement to receiving payments, benefits, and employment references on leaving an employer, it is fair to say that it is the employer who has a real interest in concluding a Settlement Agreement. The reason for this is that employers want to be as sure as possible that if they pay an employee a reasonable sum of money when ending the employment relationship, they will not also be faced with any Employment Law claims or other legal action by the employee. If a Settlement Agreement is entered into, this gives the employer the best possible peace of mind that the relationship will be brought to an end by agreement, and without litigation. Employers are therefore keen for employees to sign Settlement Agreements when a severance package or settlement is being agreed.

As a result of this, the standard practice that has emerged is that employers will offer to pay an amount towards the legal fees incurred by an employee when taking legal advice on a Settlement Agreement. The amount paid by the employer can vary, but at ELP we have adopted a policy that wherever possible in straightforward cases we will only charge the employee the amount of legal fees that the employer is willing to pay. We have this policy because we know that if an employee’s employment is ending, the last thing they want to be faced with is a bill for legal services. We also feel that as it is often the employer who tells the employee that the Settlement Agreement must be “signed off” by an Employment Law solicitor, it is fair for the employer to meet the cost of this.

However, it is important to stress that even if an employer is paying for an employee’s legal advice, as a firm of solicitors ELP always ensure that whatever we do is in the best interests of the employee. The employee is our client throughout the Settlement Agreement transaction, and the employer is not. If we feel that the provisions of a Settlement Agreement are unfair or unfavourable, we will make sure that the employee knows this, and we will ensure that the employee is aware of the other options available, whether they be to refuse the Settlement Agreement, to seek to negotiate better terms, or to proceed with formal legal action through a Court or Employment Tribunal. Our aim is to make sure that our employee clients make the best decision for them with a full understanding of their options and the relevant aspects of Employment Law.

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Bob, a huge thank you for all your help and advice through my house buying journey!  You made it much easier than I had feared and I am extremely grateful.

Bob, thank you for guiding us through what turned out to be a relatively stress-free experience – much credit goes to you & your team.

I cannot thank ELP Arbuthnott McClanachan’s dedicated solicitors enough for the advice, support and speedy resolution they secured for me when I was informed of my impending redundancy. At that difficult time, their advice gave me strength, their expertise gave me belief and their professionalism secured a satisfactory outcome for me and my family.

We are a small Edinburgh based Holiday accommodation letting and management agency. When we recently realized that we needed to formalize employment contracts for our staff. We asked advice from colleagues friends and family and ELP were recommended to us . We have found them to be very helpful and friendly and would gladly recommend them to any one requiring help and advice regarding employment law.

A highly efficient service from the team at ELP. Took the stress out of buying our property.

Thanks Barbara

To Catherine and her staff, a big thank you from us both for all your help and advice and very efficient, caring, prompt attention!

We used ELP in 2004 to manage the purchase of our first property.  More than a decade later, we were happy to use ELP Arbuthnott McClanachan again.  Laura and her team provide a thoughtful, personal service that made managing the trickier parts of the conveyancing process much less stressful than they would have been otherwise.  We have recommended ELP Arbuthnott McClanachan to several friends and colleagues who have been buying and selling property in Edinburgh and would not hesitate to do so again.

Dear Bob, just a little note to say a big “thank you” for all your hard work on what has been a very tricky purchase. I have really appreciated the regular communication and responsiveness.

We are a two partner law firm who do not specialise in Employment law. We have referred a number of our clients to Duncan McFadzean at ELP and those clients have always expressed their satisfaction at the work which ELP have done for them. We have also used ELP for any advice and guidance which we ourselves have required as a firm and have always found that advice to be accurate and tailored to our particular needs. ELP’s advice can be timely, cost effective and pragmatic. We have no hesitation in recommending them.

I would like to express my gratitude towards you for the professional, courteous, efficient, and helpful manner in which you conducted yourself within the business of dealing with myself and the sale of my property. You are a credit to yourself and the people that you represent.

We are a firm of Chartered Surveyors operating in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas and on two occasions during the course of the last year required help in relation to Employment Legislation.

In the first instance, we were looking to employ a Chartered Surveyor from a company which had gone into voluntary liquidation and sought advice from ELP prior to proceeding due to concerns in relation to matters such as restrictive covenants. That advice was well explained on a sound basis, delivered timeously and enabled us to proceed with the employment of that person.

Following his employment we took the opportunity of reviewing our Contracts of Employment and to that end, ELP provided an excellent service in that regard. In what appears to be a constantly changing working environment, ELP provided us in the first instance with a standard Contract of Employment which we jointly reviewed taking into account the nature of our business and business practices and produced a document to the satisfaction of both employer and employees. The service provided by ELP was first class in terms of efficiency, consideration of options and attention to detail.

We propose to continue our relationship with ELP in the years to come in relation to employment issues as it has become quite clear that such services from a competent organisation are invaluable in the present working environment.

I own a cleaning business in Edinburgh and use ELP for advice on matters such as staff contracts, client contracts, and any dispute situations. I am very impressed by the advice which I receive. They are always able to help me with large and small pieces of work, and the approach they take is clear and aimed at achieving quick solutions. My first language is Polish, so while I am also fluent in English I appreciate the fact that ELP will always make arrangements to meet with me to talk matters through face to face when required. I would definitely recommend ELP to business owners and individuals who need legal advice.

We used ELP for both buying and selling based on personal recommendation. They are up to date with the current state of the market and gave us good advice on what to offer so we were very happy with what we paid for our new flat. When it came to selling the photographers they used for the Home Report were excellent and very painstaking. The schedule they produced was upbeat and attractive. ELP staff gave us regular feedback on the progress of the sale and were always contactable. They offered a highly professional service while at the same time they were friendly and treated us as individuals. A very personal service.

We are a medium sized law firm which does not have a department specialising in employment law matters. We have used ELP in relation to any employment law input we require as a firm. We have also referred a number of our clients to ELP for advice on such matters as we value the expert knowledge and quality service that Duncan McFadzean and his team provide. It is of paramount importance to us that both our own and our clients’ affairs are dealt with in a confidential and sensitive manner, and we know that we can rely on ELP for this. We would not hesitate to recommend ELP to either employers or employees who need advice in the employment law field.

I just wanted to thank you for your professional service you provided me during what is a very difficult time for me. Your experience, diligence and knowledge have resulted in a larger settlement of which I am very grateful . I also appreciated your patience and understanding of my situation. I would have no hesitation in recommending your services to others.

ELP expertly guided us through the maze of disciplinary, grievance and procedural issues of employment law, so that we felt fully prepared with realistic expectations of the outcome. We would highly recommend the services of ELP.

This was our first time buying a property, and we were extremely nervous, but Lisbeth-Ann and the team held our hands and stepped us through each stage of the process; from advising how much to offer, to helping with a mortgage problem, to ensuring the smooth exchange of contracts and keys. We always felt like we were welcome to call at any time, and when Lisbeth-Ann took a short holiday part way through the process, her colleague Barbara picked our case up seamlessly and with no hassle. We would certainly recommend ELP’s services to anyone thinking of buying a property for the first time, and will happily use them again in the future.

The combination of services offered was ideal when we established our new office in Scotland. ELP provided us with concise employment contracts and excellent support during the lease negotiation for our office. Professionalism combined with a transparent service and price model – a brilliant solution for us.

We found the service from ELP to be excellent and very efficient. From the first interview to talk thorough what we needed in the will to the actual signing was only 10 days. The whole process was explained clearly and we were encouraged to confront the very difficult and emotive issues that are involved in drawing up a will to ensure that all eventualities were covered and our wishes respected.

We have used ELP Solicitors everytime we have bought and sold property (three times now!). From the very early stages of initial meetings and photographs right through to completion we always felt that they were handling our affairs with care and attention. Lisbeth-Ann was great at making all aspects of the Conveyancing process clear and easy for us to understand. They were quick to answer any questions or concerns we had and we felt that they always had our interests at heart. We would highly recommend them for their professional service and friendly approachable manner.

Catherine, thanks for making everything so easy and stress free! Thank you!

Barbara has been absolutely fantastic in drawing up our wills. She was the perfect combination of understanding our requirements alongside challenging our thinking to ensure we now have much more robust plans in place for our estate. It has given us both peace of mind knowing things are in order and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her services and that of ELP.

It is always an absolute pleasure dealing with Lisbeth-Ann.  She is always friendly and attentive whilst being professional and thorough.  I would not hesitate to recommend her.

Many thanks for all your help in finalising John’s affairs, we would have been lost without you. Again many thanks.

Legal advice in Scotland at its best!

I cannot praise ELP highly enough for the excellent advice and service that they have given to me over the last three years. I arrived with a complex legal problem. With patience, good humour and fantastic attention to legal detail, Barbara Watson unravelled this complex set of facts, keeping me informed of progress every step of the way, and arrived at a solution that kept everyone happy. And all of this at a very reasonable fee.

I highly recommend this firm – I will certainly be using them for all of my legal needs in Scotland.

Bob, just a small card to say a huge THANK YOU for all your help over the past few months. It’s an over-used cliché, but we really couldn’t have done it without you!

We deal with digital distribution of music. We wanted to use a law firm who were good at what they do but who also had a modern and friendly approach that would suit our kind of business. We have used ELP to frame our employment contracts and employment policies, which are well drafted and tailored to suit and protect our business. We are also able to call them when anything legal comes up in the business that we need some guidance on, whether it be staffing issues or anything else. This is probably the best part of the service we receive – ELP are always happy to help, and we can speak to them as business advisers as well as employment lawyers. We would definitely recommend ELP to any business needing employment law or just general advice.

I was more than happy with the advice and representation which I received from ELP in relation to an employment tribunal dispute with my employers. From start to finish, ELP kept me up to date with any developments regarding my case during what was a stressful 6 months out of work. They also achieved a good result for me in advance of the Tribunal hearing. I would definitely recommend the firm to anyone in similar circumstances.

Late in life I found myself out of work and needing to negotiate hard with my former employers to get my rightful desserts. Duncan and the ELP team guided me every step of the way and worked hard on my behalf to a happy and successful conclusion.

I use ELP to manage conveyancing on investment properties and some of these purchases can be complex and tedious and take time to resolve. Throughout this process the staff are approachable and friendly and the service is always efficient and effective. I continue to recommend ELP to family and friends.

Tiphereth is a medium sized Edinburgh charity, operating in the voluntary sector, offering care and work opportunities to adults with learning disabilities. We use ELP for legal advice and support in human resource issues, and for assistance in drafting letters, policies and contracts. The arrangement makes sense for us financially and is good value for money. ELP have been consistently helpful to our organisation over several years, offering clear legal advice on a wide spectrum of issues, and often doing so at very short notice.

I am a disabled person, and was dismissed from my work. It was claimed that I did not perform the work to the required speed, and I felt that this was disability discrimination. I asked ELP to represent me in the Employment Tribunal process. I was correctly and informatively advised by ELP, and achieved the best option in resolution.

My wife and I used ELP to update our wills which was done in a highly efficient, friendly and prompt manner. I would recommend highly ELP to anyone wanting to do the same thing.

We have been using the services of ELP, especially their employment law advice service for employers, for more than 3 years. The reason we chose ELP is previous firms of lawyers we used were very aloof and did not offer practical guidance. We have a great relationship with them and trust Duncan’s advice implicitly. The reason for this is he knows our business and understands our style of management. This is invaluable when you are dealing with staff issues. The advice given is straight forward and to the point. ELP have also helped us develop our staff handbook and other procedures that are relevant to our company over the years.

I recently used E.L.P. when I sold a bungalow and purchased a flat. I was very impressed with the level of service and would have no hesitation in commending the company to future clients. Communications were efficient at all times and matters responded to very quickly. The financial transactions were all done within an hour of the completion time and my bank account credited.

It was a pleasure to do business with E.L.P.

I’ve turned to ELP for advice and support on a range of legal matters and have found them to be friendly, fast and efficient. A lot of people are intimidated by solicitors but ELP go out of their way to make legal support easy and accessible.

We are a firm of Consulting Engineers with 30 staff. Over the years we have used the services of Duncan McFadzean of ELP on a number of occasions. As well as advising us on updating our Conditions of Employment to keep us up to date with the ever changing legislation we have also used his services in connection with redundancy and disciplinary matters. The advice we have been given has always been excellent. It is a great comfort to us to have this level of professional support readily available at the end of the phone.

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