Martin Searle Solicitors are launching an employment law campaign throughout August 2016 to highlight the importance of obtaining employment law advice before offering or entering into COT3 Agreements or Settlement Agreements.
Employers currently provide a financial contribution of between £350 - £500 plus VAT towards their employee obtaining independent legal advice before entering a Settlement Agreement. Now that we have mandatory Acas Early Conciliation, employees are being offered Acas COT3 Agreements to settle claims. But Acas Conciliators cannot provide legal advice and this means employees are not making informed decisions about whether to settle or bring a claim.
Martin Searle Solicitors' campaign to resolve disputes, either by using COT3 or a Settlement Agreement, includes a free telephone advice service for employers and employees. If you are an employer and you need advice on making a settlement offer or an employee who has been offered a settlement, their advice will ensure peace of mind.
Fiona Martin, Head of Employment Law at Martin Searle Solicitors, says: "Acas Early Conciliation has been helpful in giving employers and employees another opportunity to settle their dispute. However, COT3 Agreements do not normally require the employer to provide a financial contribution towards the employee's legal fees. As Acas officers must not give advice about the merits of a case, employees find it difficult to establish whether the amount offered is fair, in exchange for them waiving their right to bring a tribunal claim. Similarly, employers may need guidance on a fair sum to offer to ensure a quick resolution of outstanding disputes."
Throughout August, between 4pm - 6pm on Mondays and Thursdays, Martin Searle Solicitors expert employment lawyers will provide a free half hour telephone advice service, on the issues surrounding COT3 and Settlement Agreements, for employers and employees.
Fiona adds: "Settlement Agreements are often offered in 'protected conversations' where there are performance or disciplinary issues. Many employers introduce these agreements prematurely, or in the mistaken belief that they will have the benefit of confidentiality.
"In cases where there may be equality issues, such as disability discrimination, taking legal advice before offering a Settlement Agreement ensures that there is no risk of this backfiring if the employee alleges undue pressure or improper behaviour. This could result in so called protected conversations becoming disclosable to the Employment Tribunal."
For free and confidential advice, employers and employees can call Martin Searle Solicitors legal helpline Mondays and Thursdays throughout August from 4pm - 6pm on 01273 609911, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To support the campaign, Martin Searle Solicitors have also produced a series of Factsheets, Case Studies, Top Tips and FAQs around COT3 and Settlement Agreements. For more details visit www.ms-solicitors.co.uk.