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Redundancies, settlement agreements and COVID-19: The practicalities

The impact of COVID-19 is in full swing and employees make up a large pool of those affected by it. Employers around the country are currently dusting off their business plans and in some cases, reducing their staffing numbers. 

Employees are increasingly finding themselves in discussions with HR managers resulting in the presentation of Settlement Agreements. For some, this can be seen as a welcome and potentially life-changing event - an opportunity to exit from one place of work and take up a new challenge.  For others this remains disappointing and potentially worrying news.

Your meeting with HR

What follows after an initial meeting with HR, can often feel like an overload of information especially when employees are told that they must obtain legal advice. Naturally, this can be an overwhelming thought, particularly if your experience of lawyers is limited to buying or a selling a house. 

At Emsleys, we have an experienced team of lawyers who will support you at every step of the way: from your very first telephone call, right through to the completion of your Settlement Agreement .

The process

Our objectives are to:

  • Listen to you and understand as much as possible about your individual circumstances.
  • Review your Settlement Agreement to ensure that the drafted document is tailored to your needs and in line with your discussions with your employer.
  • Meet with you (via virtual means during the pandemic) to take your detailed instructions and explain the impact of each clause of the Settlement Agreement.
  • Liaise with your employer / employer’s representative to ensure that the signed Settlement Agreement is submitted on your behalf and countersigned by your employer.

Whilst Settlement Agreements are often used to end a working relationship on mutual grounds, we believe it is still imperative to provide legal advice and guidance to you on all the terms and conditions of what is a legally binding contract once it is signed by both parties.

Timeframes

We also fully appreciate that individuals are often under tremendous pressure to secure an appointment with a solicitor in a relatively short timeframe once the Settlement Agreement is given to you. Our aim is to accommodate our clients and arrange appointments at relatively short notice, whilst providing a first-class service and completing all formalities.

Your contract of employment

In addition, we also review your Contract of Employment to determine whether any restrictive covenants apply to your situation. Restrictive covenants are designed to protect an employer once an employee leaves the business. They are also known as post-termination restrictions and can prevent you from dealing with customers of your former employer for a specified length of time; poaching other members of staff to join you at your next venture, or joining a business which competes with your former employer’s business interests, amongst others.

Given the seriousness of the impact of restrictive covenants, we believe it is necessary to advise you about these during your meeting and accordingly, this is also part of the service provided by Emsleys.

To make an appointment to discuss your Settlement Agreement with a member of our Dispute Resolution team, please call 0113 232 1030 or email dispute.resolution@emsleys.co.uk

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