Q&A - Should I sign settlement agreement instead of taking employer to tribunal?

Q: I complained about my boss to his line manager because I felt he was bullying me. I was told to put my complaint in writing, which I did along with witness statements from colleagues who saw what had been happening. The boss said he would move me to a different department so it wouldn’t happen again but I said I didn’t want to do a different job, I just wanted no more bullying. When the line manager refused to take steps to reprimand my boss I threatened to take them to a tribunal. Now he’s trying to make me sign a settlement agreement and buy me off instead. What should I do?

A: It’s all about the numbers and peace of mind . By signing a ‘settlement agreement’, sometimes known as a ‘compromise agreement’, you will be giving up your right to go to an employment tribunal. The settlement agreement will be a legal contract between you and your employer and one which there is no getting out of. In addition employers usually insist on keeping such an agreement confidential so you will not be able to discuss with anyone else the details contained within it.

Employers will usually pay for you to get independent legal advice about any settlement agreement they offer. If in your case this is not offered you should request it and you should insist on seeking advice from an experienced specialist employment solicitor of your choice.
Before going to see your solicitor you should gather together as much relevant information as possible about the grievance you have had with your employer. This will enable the solicitor to decide whether or not the ‘settlement’ figure is sufficient compensation. If the solicitor feels that your agreement should be offering you more, they will explain this to you and offer to negotiate with your employer on your behalf.

(Article June 2018)