How do you negotiate a fair ‘settlement agreement’ exit package deal when leaving your job after being badly treated at work?
With our Supported Self Representation service you can have the confidence and the tools you need to represent yourself.
It may seem complex and daunting but with the right approach, anyone can represent themselves. You’ve really got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
1. Assess the strength of your case
If you have a strong case, your employer is more likely to negotiate a deal because of the risk that you might take them to an Employment Tribunal and win. Try our ‘Do I have a case‘ app to assess the strength of your case.
2. Decide on your negotiating strategy
So you’ve tried ‘Do I have a case’. You believe that you may have a reasonably strong case. Next you need to decide on your negotiating strategy. Read these two articles to help you:
Generally we would recommend that your best negotiating strategy is to write a letter to your employer, setting out your case.
Why? A decent letter will normally get a reply from the employer setting out their side of the story.
This will flush out their counter arguments and help you to understand what extra evidence you may need to obtain in order to negotiate a decent settlement.
3. Write a without prejudice letter
It may seem a bit daunting writing a without prejudice letter for the first (and hopefully only!) time in your career. But don’t worry.
Without prejudice means off the record, so it can’t be used against you later on if you don’t get it right. For example it couldn’t be used in an investigation at work, and it couldn’t be referred to by a judge in any Employment Tribunal which you later decide to start.
Depending on your type of case, there are a some free letter builder tools on this website which will write the structure out for you, so you just have to fill in a few individual details:
If you’d like to see example of a selection of without prejudice letters, have a look at our documents section here:
You can read about how to write a good without prejudice letter in our advice articles here:
4. Assess your employer’s response
Broadly speaking, there are 3 types of response which you might be met with:
This can include writing back to you telling you how you have no hope at all and that they are not willing to negotiate. If this happens then it’s time to escalate matters.
This can include writing back to you telling you how you have no hope at all and that they are not willing to negotiate, but then leaving a glimmer of hope. It could be inviting you to a meeting. It could be asking for more information in writing. At this point, you need to start responding to their specific queries. Often a negotiation process is hampered by misunderstandings in the facts, which can be ironed out by email. Our Do I have a case tool will provide you with a reading list for this process.
Often an employer won’t respond at all, or will acknowledge receipt of your letter but not get back to you properly. This is frustrating but you need to chase them. If you’ve chased them then it’s time to escalate matters.
5. Escalate matters internally
You can use the same structure you used for your without prejudice letter, but taking out any mention of settlement or tribunal. So it’s just a statement of facts regarding what happened to you in the past.
Writing a grievance lets your employer know that you are not planning to give up, so it’s another reason for them to offer you a settlement.
Another effective method of encouraging your employer to enter into a settlement agreement with you is to raise a data subject access request, which you can read about here. You can also see our example DSAR’s here.
A DSAR is a request of all the information which your employer holds relating to you, including for example internal emails where they may have been bad mouthing you.
6. Escalate matters externally
Once you have your ACAS certificate, you will have up to a month to issue an Employment Tribunal claim. You can read about how to do that here and you can see our example Employment Tribunal claim documents here.
7. Settlement agreement offers
If at any stage you get offered a settlement agreement then try to play it cool. Don’t accept the first offer they make. Read our article on how much you should get here, and read the guidance on our calculator page here.
And once you have received a settlement offer contact us for a free consultation and we will be able to represent you, either to increase the amount or to review and sign the settlement agreement document itself.
This is because there is always an amount of money for legal fees, set out in the settlement agreement document itself, which is for the legal costs of going through this lengthy document with you. This does not result in any additional cost to you, as your lawyer will invoice the employer separately for this.
We would then go through it in detail with you, and discuss whether you should try to negotiate an increased amount. We might be able to do this on a no win no fee basis.
Once you are happy with the deal set out in the document, we would countersign it to confirm that all of the legal wording in the document has been explained to you in plain English.