A Settlement Agreement is a legally binding document that is typically used to resolve disputes between an employer and an employee. It is often used as a means of ending an employment relationship on agreed terms, and is sometimes referred to as a ‘compromise agreement’.
Settlement Agreements are used in cases of redundancy, dismissal, or termination of employment, but can also be used in other circumstances, such as workplace discrimination or harassment.
Employees who are presented with a Settlement Agreement should be aware of their rights and obligations under the agreement, as well as the potential benefits and drawbacks.
In this article, we will provide an overview of what employees should know about Settlement Agreements and their benefits!
- Employees Have the Right to Seek Legal Advice Prior to Signing
- You May Receive a Financial Settlement
- Employees May Be Asked to Agree to a Confidentiality Clause
- Make Use of the Payment in Lieu of Notice
- Waiving Your Right to Bring a Claim Against the Employer
- Employees May Have to Agree to Other Conditions
- What are the Benefits of a Settlement Agreement for Employees?
- Final Thoughts
Employees Have the Right to Seek Legal Advice Prior to Signing
It is important to remember that as an employee, you have the right to seek legal advice before signing a settlement agreement. But before this, you should be well informed about employee onboarding procedures.
You should take advantage of this right and consult with a lawyer who specializes in employment law. A lawyer can help you understand the terms of the agreement and advise you on whether the agreement is fair and reasonable. In addition, they can help you negotiate better terms if necessary.
You May Receive a Financial Settlement
One of the most common elements of a settlement agreement is a financial settlement. This may include a lump sum payment or a series of payments over time.
The amount of the settlement will depend on the circumstances of your departure and the terms of the agreement. You should carefully review the financial settlement and make sure that it adequately compensates you for any loss of income or benefits resulting from your departure.
Employees May Be Asked to Agree to a Confidentiality Clause
Another common element of a settlement agreement is a confidentiality clause. This clause prohibits you from discussing the terms of the agreement with anyone, except your lawyer, spouse, or partner.
The purpose of this clause is to protect the employer’s reputation and prevent the agreement from becoming public knowledge. You should carefully consider whether you are willing to agree to a confidentiality clause, as it may limit your ability to discuss your departure with colleagues or potential future employers.
Make Use of the Payment in Lieu of Notice
Payment in lieu of notice (PILON) is a type of compensation that an employer may offer to an employee instead of requiring them to work out their notice period.
Essentially, a payment in lieu of notice allows an employee to receive their pay for the duration of their notice period, but they do not need to actually work during that time.
PILON is often included in settlement agreements. If an employee is offered PILON as part of a settlement agreement, it is important to carefully review the terms of the agreement before signing it.
Specifically, employees should ensure that the amount of PILON being offered is fair and reasonable given their circumstances. For example, if an employee is being asked to leave their job suddenly and without cause, they may be entitled to a higher PILON amount than if they were leaving voluntarily.
If an employer fails to honor the PILON terms of a settlement agreement, an employee may need to seek legal assistance to enforce their rights.
One option is to hire an employment lawyer who can help negotiate with the employer or take legal action if necessary. Alternatively, an employee can contact their local labor department or employment rights organization to get advice on their options.
Waiving Your Right to Bring a Claim Against the Employer
Another vital element of a settlement agreement is a release clause. This clause typically states that you agree not to bring any claims against the employer arising out of your employment or termination.
This means that you waive your right to sue the employer for wrongful termination, discrimination, or any other claims related to your employment. You should carefully consider whether you are willing to waive your right to bring a claim against the employer, as it may limit your legal options in the future.
Employees May Have to Agree to Other Conditions
Finally, you should be aware that settlement agreements may include other conditions that you must agree to. For example, you may be required to return any company property, such as a laptop or cell phone.
You may also be required to provide a reference for the company or agree to a non-compete clause. You should carefully review all of the conditions of the agreement and make sure that you are comfortable with them.
What are the Benefits of a Settlement Agreement for Employees?
Settlement Agreements can offer a number of benefits for employees. These may include:
- Certainty: A Settlement Agreement can provide a clear and definitive end to a dispute or employment relationship, providing both parties with certainty and closure.
- Compensation: Settlement Agreements will typically include a compensation payment to the employee, which can be a significant sum of money.
- Confidentiality: Settlement Agreements will often include a confidentiality clause, preventing either party from discussing the terms of the agreement or the circumstances leading up to it.
- Avoiding litigation: Settlement Agreements can be a quicker and less expensive way of resolving disputes than going to court or an employment tribunal.
In conclusion, if you are an employee who is considering signing a settlement agreement, it is important to remember that you have the right to seek legal advice, and carefully review the terms of the agreement among other things. By understanding the elements of a settlement agreement, you can make an informed decision that protects your rights and interests.