What is a protected conversation?
A protected conversation is an “off the record” discussion between an employer and employee about the proposed exit of the employee from the organisation through a settlement agreement (see below link for more information on settlement agreements). A protected conversation can be initiated by either party. Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, protected conversations are inadmissible in any subsequent Employment Tribunal claim as long as there are no signs of “improper behaviour” or discrimination.
What should I do/say in the meeting?
You are under no obligation to accept the proposed terms of any settlement agreement. Your employer should not unduly pressurise you into agreeing anything. At the meeting you should make notes and ask that your employer confirms any proposals in writing.
How long do I have to make a decision?
It is recommended by ACAS that you have a minimum of 10 calendar days to consider any proposed settlement agreement.
How can I negotiate the best settlement?
It is advisable to seek a solicitor’s assistance at an early stage to negotiate the most favourable terms. You should always keep in mind the non-monetary aspects of the settlement that can be negotiated. This can include: references, exit announcements, non monetary benefits, help with finding another job and work gadgets.
Before you are able to sign a settlement agreement you need to have obtained independent legal advice on the terms and its effects. Your employer will usually contribute to the cost of this.