It’s a sad fact that in today’s economy and in the time of COVID, people are losing their jobs.
These delicate situations need handling carefully so it’s often a case of testing the water, and the employer may have an off-the-record conversation with an employee.
What is an off-the-record conversation?
An off-the-record conversation is a conversation that takes place between an employee and employer, usually to discuss an exit package without any admission of liability: these can also be referred to as without prejudice or protected conversations.
Generally, the employer will inform the employee that if they are not interested in exploring an exit package at that time, the employer will continue with a formal process such as a redundancy process or a performance process.
Why is the conversation and letter off-the-record or without prejudice?
The conversation will occur on an off-the-record or without prejudice basis so as not to be admissible in a potential unfair dismissal claim that the employee may have.
However, these conversations still need some careful handling as there are circumstances when the conversation can be referred to in a subsequent claim. For example, an off-the-record conversation could be referred to in a discrimination claim.
What is a section 111A letter?
A section 111A letter is a letter some employers might issue their employee setting out what the key points they have discussed and offered during the off-the-record conversation. Generally, the letter will set out what package the employer is prepared to offer and the way in which they propose to execute the offer.
The letter will usually state that the exit package is subject to the employee and the employer signing a settlement agreement. It may also give a timeframe for the employee to consider the exit package option and let the employer know if they would like to take this further.
Can the employee tell anyone about the off-the-record conversation?
It should be made clear that employees should not disclose the discussion with their colleagues but that they can speak with their legal adviser about these conversations. It is usually the case that employees are allowed also to discuss the matter with their immediate family provided they, in turn, agree not to disclose it to others.
Following on from the off-the-record conversation what are the next steps?
If the employee is happy, in principle, to explore further the exit package the employer is offering they will then be issued with a settlement agreement.
Further details at www.wilsonbrowne.co.uk/settlementagreements
What if I the employee is not happy with the offer?
The employee may attempt to negotiate an improved offer with the employer at this time. Alternatively, the employee may prefer to leave negotiation until they receive the settlement agreement.
It is possible for either side to withdraw from the offer at any time before a settlement agreement has been taken to an adviser and signed by both the employee and the employer.
What can Wilson Browne Solicitors do for you?
We’re here to help. We are known for a professional but down-to-earth and friendly approach. We’re normal people just like you, and understand the worry and upset you’re probably going through.
We offer a free initial call, so you can tell us about your situation and we can do our best to put your mind at rest. There’s no obligation to instruct at a later date.
Contact Jennie Jahina at Wilson Browne Solicitors on 0800 088 6004 or visit www.wilsonbrowne.co.uk