With many companies going through a period of contraction or ceasing to trade, it is more important than ever that employees who are faced with redundancy get the right legal help. But in many cases, employees are often left to fend for themselves when it comes to negotiating any redundancy payments or settlement agreements This is a real problem, because the employee often does not have the skills or knowledge required to get a good package. One client of mine lost more than £30,000 because he did not even try and get a settlement agreement. That is a lot of money he could have saved for a £95 meeting!

The tips below may help you if you are facing redundancy but are by no means substitute for a qualified employment solicitor.

Know what you want to achieve.

Maybe you want more money to leave the firm or get a better reference (or both). Sometimes you just want to leave as quickly as possible. In the main, people want to get the maximum payout they can. Losing a job can set you back financially and so getting the money you are entitled to is important.

Have you looked at your employment contract?

Your employment contract is where it all begins. Everything about redundancies, settlement agreements, your terms and conditions of employment including notice periods etc. should already be in your contract. If you do not have a copy, then the firm you work for should supply you with a duplicate.

If you have never been issued with one, get in touch with a solicitor right away if you are being threatened with redundancy. When you have a good knowledge of your contract you will know more about your unique situation and can enter any meetings better prepared.

Does your employer have a redundancy policy?

You can see if your employer has an enhanced redundancy policy. This is where they often offer more than the statutory amounts. You may have former colleagues who were made redundant and you can speak to them about what they received (but do not breach confidentiality clauses if they have any in their Settlement Agreements).

If there is a redundancy policy, obtain a copy of it and make notes about how it can affect your case.

How good are you at negotiating?

If you know what you want to achieve from your redundancy then you may be able to negotiate the settlement yourself but I often find that clients prefer to have a professional negotiator do the work for them.

Sometimes you may want to get legal advice before negotiating directly. This might be helpful if you are confident in your own skills and can get to the right person in the company who “does the deals”. However, in many cases it may be better to get a legal representative, such as a specialist employment solicitor, to negotiate on your behalf. Being at arm’s length and having the full knowledge of the law, they can often get a much better deal for you.

How much do you want?

Most people want to get as much money as they can but would not know how. Sometimes it is knowing how to structure the redundancy payments that can give you an added amount. Some payments can be tax free (up to £30,000). You may have bonus money due or commissions. Or maybe there are share options to give up?

Negotiating is a skill and an unexperienced negotiator is at risk of starting too low, not appreciating when to compromise or what to concede (if anything). Often an employee can concede something of little to no mandatory value but can make you appear to compromise.

Keep a cool, clear head.

When negotiating you tend to be more successful when you remain in control. Although you may be emotional because of the situation, it will not help your cause if you lose your temper. This is why many people use employment solicitors. They are independent and not personally invested. In many cases, putting the problem of redundancy back on the employer can get a better settlement.

Communications –make notes and keep emails.

Memories are lovely, but when it comes to redundancies, memories can often fail. The best way to keep information recorded is to make notes yourself. You can do this in a notebook or on a computer or both. Make sure you keep any emails or letters. You can then put this documentation in a folder and your solicitor (if you employ one) will be grateful for the completeness of the information provided.

When you have better notes than your employer, it puts you on the front foot. Any grey area that you or your solicitor can exploit because the employer does not have the relevant information is leverage you can use.

 What the law says sets the stage for your settlement.

Before you can negotiate anything you really need to know the rules you are bound by.

  • What does the law say in relation to compulsory redundancy? To settlement agreements?
  • Or voluntary redundancy?
  • Do you have a case for unfair dismissal in the eyes of the current employment law.

This is the biggest problem for most people. There are hundreds of clauses of employment law and they are always changing. If you do not feel confident, or do not have the time to get up to speed, talk to an employment law specialist.

Not sure what to do? Get legal help from the start.

In many cases, the worst thing you can do in a redundancy situation is to try and go it alone. That is because you are usually up against a Human Resources professional who has a wealth of knowledge. No matter how long you have worked for a company or what contribution you have made, there is nothing a firm has to do for you that is “extra” or “special” other than apply the law. Having someone experienced, knowledgeable and legally at the top of their game will give you an advantage when it comes to negotiating a better redundancy package.

An experienced employment solicitor can help you get a good result, and do it in a time frame that allows you to move on to your next job, knowing you have not missed out or done the wrong thing in accepting a term you were not entirely comfortable with.

Do you want an expert employment solicitor in Reading to help you?

For expert help in all areas of employment law, settlement agreements, redundancy, both compulsory and voluntary please contact Justin Sadler, Employment specialist at solicitors Barrett and Co Solicitors in Reading.

Call 0118 958 9711 or email justin.sadler@barrettandco.co.uk

Reserve your fixed fee £95 employment consultation here

Justin Sadler also deals with redundancy payments, notice periods, redundancy process claims, unfair dismissals, discrimination claims, settlement agreements and all matters relating to employment terms and conditions.