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Applying for jobs following a settlement agreement

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by crocherkitten, Feb 26, 2016.

  1. crocherkitten

    crocherkitten New commenter

    Having left my previous teaching post with a settlement agreement as an alternative to going through a disciplinary hearing do I have to admit this on an application form (not for a teaching job but still in a school) if it asks about disciplinary proceedings? Although I generally feel honesty is the best policy it seems to make a mockery of the confidential nature of the agreement and the agreed reference which doesn't mention the proposed disciplinary action.
     
  2. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

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    It all depends on the exact question you are asked by the prospective employer, and precisely what happened at your school, but you must answer truthfully or not only could you be dismissed you could be prosecuted for obtaining money by deception.

    A Settlement Agreement Confidentiality clause can't be binding on someone who wasn't a signatory to the SA - such as a prospective employer - nor can it entitle anyone to tell untruths on a job application.
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  3. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I suspect that the average agreed reference has "settlement agreement" written all over it for those who can read the signs, so it is irrelevant whether you have been asked about it or not. I have always advocated honesty, although a bit of me wonders how an employer would ever know for sure if it is confidential.

    Isn't there a bit of a catch 22 type issue going on here? The Settlement Agreement Confidentiality clause is binding on the employee, so answering the question honestly breaks it, but it is also wrong to be dishonest.

    For what it is worth, I was faced with this when I was asked about such things for a teaching job, having had a CA from a job before I started teaching. I replied that I had, but it had no bearing on my teaching, and I made the shortlist. I did wonder about the issue mentioned above, but decided to go with honesty, even though it broke the agreement.
     
  4. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    I always thought the settlement would include an agreed (between HT, teacher & their Union) statement which would be submitted as the reference. Obviously a potential employer might suspect that this is an agreed reference, but it ought to include the basic details which their questionnaire would also cover.
     
  5. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

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    I don't think there's a Catch 22 here @Piranha. For one thing an SA doesn't usually say that you cannot disclose its existence, but that you can't disclose its terms, which is quite different. The prohibition on disclosure normally isn't absolute anyway, and the employee or school can disclose it when legally required to do so.

    But in this case OP isn't being asked anything about an SA or whether one exists, nor about references. OP is being asked in a job application form whether they've ever been subject to disciplinary proceedings. OP isn't entitled to lie about that, nor could an SA confidentiality clause require OP to lie. The precise question will determine how OP must answer. Eg, whether the question asks "Have any disciplinary allegations been made against you?" or whether the question is "Has there been any finding of misconduct against you?" could make all the difference to what OP has to disclose - presumably 'yes' to the former but 'no' to the latter.

    And prospective employers are likely to ask your last employer the same question in a reference request, and they too cannot be required by the SA Confidentiality clause to answer untruthfully. Sure, they could respond to the reference request by sending the agreed reference and refusing to answer the question about discipolinary proceedings, but that's unlikely to help OP get the job.
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    Last edited: Feb 27, 2016
    GLsghost likes this.
  6. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I applied in the usual way for my next post. I answered all tick box questions honestly, but didn't volunteer anything over and above that directly asked. I left my referees to bring up anything about capability and disciplinary, with explanations, should they be asked.

    Teaching applications only ask about convictions and safeguarding, had they been a problem you'd not have got a settlement agreement.

    If the disciplinary process hadn't been started, you can tick no. If it had then tick yes and give the briefest explanation.
     
  7. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

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    And, of course, it might not be Disciplinary at all, but Capability . . .

    Indeed.

    And some reference requests ask the referee to state that the reference has been given freely and is not an agreed reference as part of a SA or other agreement . . .

    Best wishes

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  8. Caligraphy

    Caligraphy Occasional commenter

    Meaning????
     
  9. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

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    That if you are asked for details of Disciplinary proceedings, a Capability will not be declarable.

    Best wishes

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  10. poltergeist

    poltergeist New commenter

    Just out of curiosity, is the confidentiality clause usual in a settlement agreement, and does it apply just to the employee, or is the employer also bound?
     
  11. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

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    Absolutely standard, and applies to both parties. It's usually seen as a fundamental part of a Settlement Agreement. It might more accurately be called the Non-Disclosure clause (what it's titled in my LA) , or if you are the media, the 'gagging clause', although it can be to the advantage of both parties. As I posted earlier the clause usually only says you can't disclose the terms of the SA (ie, what they paid you!), you can disclose that it exists if you want to.

    In my LA there's a separate confidentiality clause applying to employee only prohibiting the employee from disclosing any information about their employer's affairs.
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  12. crocherkitten

    crocherkitten New commenter

    Thank you all for your thoughtful and considered replies.

    I have re-read the SA very carefully and it is both its existence and the terms of settlement which are confidential (except for a handful of instances eg the tax man!). The situation which led to it being offered is not mentioned at all.

    The application form I have asks (separately) about capability and disciplinary in these terms "Has any previous employer expressed concerns and/or taken any action, whether informal/formal (including suspension from duty) on the following....". there is then a space for any details needed. I will fill it in and hope that whoever reads it can look at the wider picture of the skills I have to offer.
     
  13. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

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    Good luck, @crocherkitten . Have you seen all the applications advice in the Professional Advice Hub?

    Best wishes

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  14. crocherkitten

    crocherkitten New commenter

    Thanks TheoGriff, I will have a careful read through.
     
  15. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

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    (The missing thumbs-up emoticon)

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  16. crocherkitten

    crocherkitten New commenter

    Delighted to say that I have a new job in a lovely school, not teaching but working directly with children, which after all is the best bit!
     
  17. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

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    That is really good news, @crocherkitten !

    Best wishes for a good life from now on.

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  18. crocherkitten

    crocherkitten New commenter

    Thank you - I can't stop smiling!
     
    CWadd likes this.

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