The announcement today that House of Fraser will close 31 stores has sent shockwaves through not only the retail industry, but through the thousands of employees affected by potential job losses, not to mention their dependent families. Here in Skipton the House of Fraser store is amongst those that it has announced will be closed. What should you do if you are offered a settlement agreement?
According to reports the affected stores will stay open until early 2019 but it isn’t too early to start thinking about your position. A settlement agreement could be offered to you if you are going to be made redundant or if there is going to be a restructuring of the employer’s business like in this situation. The settlement agreement is a legally binding agreement which, when signed by you and your employer, sets out various terms as to how your employment will be terminated. If you are offered a settlement agreement you may feel overawed and not know what to do. Keep notes of any meetings/emails (and of course letters or other documentation) in which a settlement agreement is discussed.
Bear in mind that having a settlement agreement is more to your employer’s benefit than yours because it stops you bringing claims in the future against them. Accordingly, it is normal for the employer to meet some of your legal fees, pay you extra monies for you losing your job and to supply you with an agreed reference.
The settlement agreement will detail various terms as to how you and your employer must behave before and after your employment concludes. These will include terms such as you returning all property to your employer, the terms being kept confidential; and you and the employer not saying anything bad about each other (especially on social media), but most importantly what you will be paid under the agreement and when.
If you are offered a settlement agreement then you should take legal advice from a solicitor straight away. A solicitor can advise you whether or not you are receiving a good deal, given that you will be waiving most of your rights to bring a claim against your employer in the future.
You should send to us as soon as possible:
- A copy of your contract of employment;
- The settlement agreement;
- Any notes you wrote during the meeting or after the meeting where the agreement was offered to you.
There is no obligation on you to sign the agreement and if you do not, you still have all your rights to bring a claim before an employment tribunal, provided you comply with the appropriate time periods.
If you need advice on a settlement agreement or another employment law matter please call Mark Irlam at Mewies Solicitors, Skipton on Tel: 01756 799000.