New Rules About "Off The Record" Conversations To Come Into Law, Report Employment Law Solicitors Coles Miller8th Jul 2013
Rules about the “off the record” conversations firms can have with their employees about leaving will come into law on 29 July 2013, say Dorset-based employment law solicitors Coles Miller.
As mentioned before a) offers to leave and settle and b) negotiations leading to settlement will be deemened confidential in any subsequent general unfair dismissal case, as long as the offer/negotiation is not improper.
The “sign this or you’re fired” approach isn’t going to be appropriate.
ACAS have prepared a useful Code (waiting approval) here http://bit.ly/12vSQs2 (page 10 onwards) which gives an non-exhaustive list of other examples of improper behaviour. It also highlights some of the key points about these new rules including the fact that:
- the initial settlement offer doesn’t have to be put in writing (though if agreed it will have to be formally documented in writing via a settlement agreement);
- the offer should remain on the table for 10 days to give the employee a reasonable time to decide whether or not to accept;
- employees should be allowed to be accompanied to any settlement discussion meeting by a fellow employee or trade union representative (nb this isn’t a statutory obligation).
It’s important to bear in mind that such offers/negotiations can be used as evidence in many other employment claims (such as discrimination, whistleblowing, breach of contract or “automatically” unfair dismissal claims) and this has raised concern amongst a number of HR commentators that this opens the door for evidence to make its way to the Tribunal via the backdoor.
In addition to this it is important to note that compromise agreements will be renamed “settlement agreements” from 29 July.
For further information about more employment law changes coming up this summer, please contact Coles Miller Solicitors Partner Neil Andrews, 01202 673011.