It’s a brutal fact of work life that sometimes people’s employment is brought to an end by their employer without their agreement and against their will. This may come as a total shock: being called to a meeting and handed a settlement agreement or, there may be warning signs that the employer wants to force an employee out. Either way, engaging the services of an employment solicitor to fight your corner in such a situation can be a very wise investment.
Signs you may be being forced out
Sometimes the employer will wage a long campaign to wear someone down and try and make them resign. The sorts of tactics which might be employed to generally make someone’s work life more uncomfortable are:
- imposing changes to duties or responsibilities,
- changing reporting lines or undermining seniority in some other way,
- moving someone to a different team,
- changing work hours or shift patterns,
- changing terms and conditions, such as withdrawing a benefit,
- unexpectedly receiving a negative appraisal,
- failing to be awarded a bonus,
- unwarranted disciplinary charges,
- being excluded from decision making,
- being criticised by managers in front of third parties or otherwise being publicly undermined.
Each of these examples will be challengeable on legal grounds, for example, as a breach of contract and an employment solicitor can advise on the best way to pursue that, if desired.
Solicitors can provide a sense check
However, where an employee suspects a gradual forcing out, they may appreciate a sense check from an independent adviser such as an employment solicitor to test whether their suspicions are likely to be correct. An experienced employment solicitor is likely to have dealt with many similar cases and should be able to recognise when suspicions are well founded. If so, an employment solicitor can help an employee to marshal their thoughts, decide what the best outcome for them is in the current situation and then devise tactics to help them to achieve that desired outcome.
Solicitors can advise on tactics for dealing with your employer
One tactic may be to resist changes by bringing a grievance or, to fight a trumped up disciplinary charge and an employment solicitor can help a client with that. Alternatively, an individual may decide they wish to leave employment but, on their own terms with a settlement. There is no guarantee that an employer will offer an individual a sum of money to end their employment but, receiving a letter from an employment solicitor on a “without prejudice” basis can often have a beneficial effect and lead to an agreed parting of the ways.
Solicitors can negotiate a better deal
Employment solicitors are the experts at negotiating settlement agreements and can often achieve a better deal for individuals than that which is first offered by an employer. So, in cases where an employee is shocked to be handed a settlement agreement they should always delay agreeing to anything before they have taken legal advice as to the terms of the agreement.
We recently acted for a client who was told their employment was being terminated and was handed a settlement agreement out of the blue. The employer put pressure on the individual to agree the settlement there and then. On taking advice, they realised that their claim was potentially worth quite a bit more than had been offered. Springhouse re-opened negotiations with the employer and increased the final settlement sum paid by over 50%.