Every year between about November and March there’s a large increase in terminations in the professional services sector. Employers have one eye on their plans and budgets for the following year and are looking to make changes. Many employers also see terminations during these months as a good excuse to withhold bonuses that are due to be paid either in January or April and usually require you, the employee, to remain employed by the employer at the time the bonus either crystallises or is actually paid.
Large professional services companies such as banks, legal firms, consultancy firms and tech firms have tightly worded bonus policies that allow them, in the event that your employment is terminated, to proceed without pro rata payment of your bonus.
This is all well and good, but terminations in professional services companies are rarely for overt causes and usually a ‘protected conversation‘ occurs well before the time when the employer can legally dismiss you. You may also be placed on leave or ‘garden leave’ until an exit package can be agreed.
This is where we come in with our extensive experience of representing employees who want to enhance their settlement agreements and secure payment of their bonuses. The employer is often in a relatively weak position as they may have no actual case for lawful dismissal and they have had a protected conversation without any real concerns, or even removed you from the office without cause.
As well as enhancing your ex gratia payment, we can usually argue that your bonus should be paid on a pro rata basis, despite you having no actual entitlement under your contract. This is because you can simply refuse to engage in settlement negotiations and demand to come back to work. At this point your employer will be forced to unlawfully dismiss you, or, alternatively, allow you to work the following months and receive your bonus in the normal manner.
Negotiations are almost always preferable to either scenario, so the payment of your bonus is back on the table.