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Who can be present to support at a Settlement Agreement meeting?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by azzie, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. azzie

    azzie New commenter

    I am not too impressed with my Union I think the rep is too cosy with HR. I am therefore wondering if I can take someone else with me to a settlement agreement meeting to negotiate on my behalf.

    As I understand it this isn't part of any disciplinary meeting so do the rules of work colleague/union rep still apply? I would really like to take a legal advisor with me - any chance?
  2. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    I would think it reasonable to ask for a more senior Union person - an area/regional rep, nt the school rep...
  3. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    I'd like to add that I wouldn't get my hopes up about there being any degree of 'negotiation' going on, whoever goes in with you.
  4. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Also remember that you cannot do it without involving your union at some point, unless you are going to instruct an independent solicitor to act for you. The law requires either a solicitor or an authorised union official to advise you on the terms of the proposed SA and sign a certificate that they have advised you. An SA cannot go ahead until this has been done.

    It's unusual for a school rep to be involved in negotiating an SA on behalf of a union member. They don't normally have the knowledge to do it. All the ones I've been involved with it's been a regional official.

    It's also unusual to have the sort of round table negotiation you are envisaging. No reason why you couldn't have that but normally the union officer discusses with the teacher what they are seeking and what's realistic and then goes off to negotiate it on your behalf.
  5. azzie

    azzie New commenter

    I didn't make it clear, I am the school rep, so I have the reginal rep acting for me. I assumed the process was a sit around a table and talk it out affair. Maybe you could tell me what is likely to be the case Rott Weiler? I would be quite happy to instruct a solicitor if I thought it would help.
  6. azzie

    azzie New commenter

    If I could remember how to PM Rott Weiler I'd do it but do you have any ideas of how much "pay off" I could expect?
  7. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    There is no reason for it to be done in a meeting at all. Proposals can be exchanged via email. Indeed, this is how many are conducted. It is quite correct that only an authorised person can advise you on the terms of a settlement agreement and this, typically, is likely to be a regional rep. I have also never come across a school rep doing it. Certain CAB advisers are authorised to do it, too, but must be properly indemnified. No-one in our CAB Branch is authorised to do it, though we have someone in the next Branch who can.

    The stipulation is because you are compromising your rights to take legal action against the employer. However, people can and do prefer to instruct an employment lawyer to negotiate a settlement for them and the settlement should include a financial figure (typically around £250 - £300) to enable this to be done.
  8. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    That's rather outside my expertise I'm afraid azzie. In any case it's highly fact-dependent, which is why I'd say get your union regional official involved. They can advise you with full knowledge of your circumstances. Theo likes to post the story of one SA where just £10 was offered (and accepted!) but that's not typical. Others on here have suggested 3 months salary as a more typical starting point. but it really isn't possible for anyone to comment on here about what the starting point might be for you. What schools do (or should do if they are taking proper legal/HR advice) is start by working out how strong a legal claim you would have against them if instead of an SA you went to court (Employment Tribunal). How likely would you be to win? What might the Tribunal award you?

    Experience suggests that many employees have an unrealistic view of much schools pay in SAs. Most are relatively small amounts

    Hesitate to disagree with you GLs, but I'd have said that £250 - £300 (+VAT) is more likely what a High Street solicitor charges just for giving the advice on the proposed settlement and signing the certificate, not for negotiating it. I agree that the employer normally pays that in addition to the agreed payment to the employee. I'd expect it to cost more than that if the solicitor also represented the employee in negotiations and I'm not so sure the employer would agree to pay your solicitor's costs for that, but you have more experience on this than me.
  9. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    As others have said, the union is required to ensure that whoever deals with a settlement is indemnified, and that is unlikely to be a member of the union and more likely be a salaried official. If OP goes to a solicitor, then the union may well consider itself dismissed from the case. Anything more than 3 months' salary would be unusual.

    The financial handbook for academies makes interesting reading in respect of settlements, the amounts involved, and when settlements can and more importantly should not be used. Section 3.7 of www.gov.uk/.../Academies_Financial_Handbook2014.pdf is what I'm referring to.

    I note that the OP does not say why a settlement has been proposed and whether or not he/she works in an academy.
  10. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    I probably don'r have more experience than you, RW! Be that as it may, I appreciate my post may have been ambiguous and needs clarification.

    Typically SA include the figure I quoted towards seeking independent legal advice. You are right to caution that this may not be sufficient to cover all legal costs.

    There are posters who have used a lawyer to negotiate a settlement. They may be able to give a more-accurate idea of how much legal costs for the whole thing have cost.

  11. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Yes, I do like to quote this, and no, it is not typical.

    But I quote it as a warning. You should not automatically assume that you are going to be given a hefty pay-off of several months' pay, especially if there is valid evidence of either misconduct or lack of capability.

    Settlement Agreements (formerly known as Compromise Agreements)

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week.
  12. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    If we're being anecdotal about Settlement Agreements (formerly known as Compromise Agreements), I like to tell the story of the teacher I know (well me, actually!) who received a very hefty pay-off, while the school maintained it had evidence of in excess of twenty counts of misconduct.

    Even funnier: the agreement was not drafted very well... [​IMG] The employer concerned does not make that mistake any more!
  13. rooney1

    rooney1 Occasional commenter

    I think that it could be a difficult meeting ' round a table'. If you have a regional rep acting for you they will negotiate on your behalf. If you are not happy with your current rep then speak to head office. It may involve lots of backwards and forwards conversations by phone and email. How much you can ask for will depend on your personal circumstances and how much they want you to go and what you will accept. Try working out the minimum you would actually accept and the most you can realistically ask for. Your union rep should be able to advise you what is realistic. The settlement should be tax free - so this may make a difference to how much you ask for. If you are lucky you may get something in between. It is difficult when other people are acting on your behalf as you feel that you are not in control. Just remember that the union rep is supposed to be acting for you. If you employ a lawyer you may spend alot of money for little gain and your union may not want to be involved. If you have legal assistance on your house insurance you could telephone them and talk through your options and then you may be clearer about what you want your union rep to do and say.
  14. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    It is not typically for such negotiation to take place face to face in a 'meeting' at all. I know of no such cases where that has happened? not least because can you imagine! Emotions running high?. "I want this much?", "We'll give you 5p?" Not to mention the fact that the head teacher themselves needs advice and time to consider proposals presented to them, as would the involved employee.

    Typically a union or solicitor (better in my opinion, but not always offered by unions) will act as go between to aid negotiations and the procedure is undertaken by email, phone and in previous days fax!
  15. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    My experience and knowledge tell me that in the vast majority of cases (there are exceptions, as GLsGhost can testify - but that's usually when there are massive, well-evidenced faults on the school side), the most offered in a settlement is 3 months' pay.

    In most cases of which I have knowledge, however, it was usually pay until the end of term plus holiday.
  16. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    In most cases, once you involve a lwayer contracted by you, not the union, the union will henceforth refuse to help you at all.

    I say in most cases, but I know that the main unions all say so in their T&C. There may be some smaller unions that do not take this line, but I don't know.

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week.
  17. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Drinks on you, then, next time you and I meet!.


    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week.
  18. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    That's all long been spent on fast-living and advice from QCs! [​IMG]
  19. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Unions will deny continued support (as will any lawyers) if you instruct legal advice, because of a conflict of interest.

    With Settlement Agreements, however, accommodation is made for the employee to receive independent legal advice and unions are not necessarily averse to this being given by an employment specialist lawyer.

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