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claim, compromise agreement, contract, discrimination, dismissal, employer, Employment, employment advice, employment claim, employment contract, Employment law, employment tribunal defence, HR Advice, HR help, legal advice, negotiation, Recession, Redundancy, Redundancy selection, settlement agreement, termination payment, tribunal    No Comments

Gold coins

If you’re offered a Settlement Agreement, it’s likely to include a termination payment, sometimes called a compensation payment or ex-gratia payment.

It’s important to get advice on whether the offer is fair and the amount offered should reflect the value of the claims that you’re giving up. Things to think about and get advice on include:

  • Any potential claim you could bring against your employer?
  • How likely is it that any claim would succeed at a tribunal?
  • If you did succeed, how much would you be likely to recover?

The answers to these questions will affect the amount that you should expect in the Settlement Agreement. If you have a strong claim against your employer, they are more likely to give you a higher termination payment. If you don’t have any realistic claim against your employer, there’s not much incentive for them to pay you money.

Should You Negotiate?

There is no one size fits all deal. Employers will have thought about the claim that might be brought against them or simply how they want to part company. It could be you are very happy with the agreement reached or offer made and there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes you will have issues you want to discuss to see if you are getting what you deserve and it may be appropriate to negotiate.

The negotiation strategy may involve threatening to make an employment tribunal claim if the employer doesn’t pay you more money. However, keep in mind that:

  • The employment tribunal procedure is likely to take at least 6 months. If you pursue this route, you will of course need to wait much longer before recovering any money
  • Employment Tribunal proceedings can be stressful and emotionally draining
  • In the vast majority of cases there is no procedure for recovering your legal costs in a Tribunal from your employer
  • There’s no certainty that you will be successful in an Employment Tribunal hearing

There are other reasons to negotiate including your work record, your feelings that you have worked hard for your employer and the fact that it is so hard when you lose your job and this might help persuade an employer to increase any offer made. Be aware though that many employers will have had their own advice before making the offer and may well have included something for these or similar reasons already.

We can advise you of the best strategy for negotiation with a Settlement Agreement. Simply contact Russell Jones or Luke Rees who are experienced Solicitors and Partners who can guide and support you. They can be contacted by calling 01623 45 11 11 or by emailing rjones@fidler.co.uk or lrees@fidler.co.uk

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compromise agreement, contract, contract dispute, discrimination, dismissal, employer, Employment, employment advice, employment claim, Employment law, employment update, grievance, HR Advice, HR help, HR policy, Redundancy, Redundancy selection, settlement agreement, Small Business    No Comments

History book

A short history and definition of a Settlement Agreements

Disputes happen between employers and employees and most of the time it can seem to be a one sided affair with the employer appearing to have more money or ability to get advice.

So the Settlement (used to be called compromise) Agreement was born as long ago as 1993.

This allowed employers and employees to talk to each other and for the employee then to go away and get advice in a calm environment away from the pressures of work.

The idea is that by getting that independent advice away from work, the employee can ‘take a breath’ and see what the options are, the effect of any offers or agreements reached and make a calm and informed decision.

The agreement will set out

An employee’s agreement not to pursue a claim against their employer. It can cover almost any kind of claim including:

  • Unfair dismissal
  • Discrimination
  • Unpaid Wages

They are formal and binding agreements (once signed)  and  various conditions have to be in the agreement for it to be valid, including:

  • it must be in writing
  • it must relate to a specific claim that the employee could raise against the employer
  • The employee must have received legal advice

We would make sure that the agreement complies with all the necessary requirements and it is the best option for you.

Need our help? Get in touch

We have an experienced and efficient team who can provide you with support and legal advice. If you need help with a Settlement Agreement then please get in touch by calling 01623 45 11 11 or email rjones@fidler.co.uk or lrees@fidler.co.uk

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discrimination, employer, Employment, employment advice, HR help, HR policy, HR portal    No Comments

The majority of work places have a dress code in place.   They do so for a variety of reasons- for example so that their workers project a certain image. Dress codes have been in the spotlight recently following a high profile case in which a female employee claimed that she was sent home from work for refusing to wear high heels.


high heels pic

The employee was a temporary worker and she arrived for her first day to provide reception cover for a well known corporate finance firm in flat shoes.  She claims that she was then told that she had to wear shoes with a two or four inch heel and that she was then laughed at.  Following the incident the employee mounted a high profile campaign against the employer in the national press which resulted in the Company scrapping the controversial dress code.

This case serves as a useful reminder to employers.  Whilst it is understandable for employers to require a smart dress code to ensure that employees project a professional image, it is important to keep potential issues of discrimination in mind when putting together a dress code.

It is illegal for an employer to discriminate directly by treating an employee less favourably than others because of their sex or to discriminate indirectly by applying a practice that disadvantages employees of one sex. The Employment Tribunal has generally taken the approach that, as long as an even-handed approach is adopted by the employer in relation to the dress code then this will not be sex discrimination.  So a dress code which stipulates that members of one sex are required to wear a particular kind of clothing, will not necessarily mean that members of one sex are treated less favourably than the other. It will largely depend on the overall context of the relevant dress code.  Often it will come down to whether the requirement of the dress code can be justified, balancing the employer’s reasons for having such a dress code against the impact on the employee.

Practical Implications?

It is inevitable that dress codes will vary from employer to employer, largely depending on the nature of their business.  However, when formulating a dress code, it is important for employers to properly consider and make clear what the objectives of the policy are. Employers should also be careful to keep potential issues of discrimination in mind. Generally speaking, where the dress code is more flexible, it will give rise to fewer problems.

For help and advice on drafting a dress code call 01623 663246 for a fixed fee quote

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Absence Management, dismissal, employer, Employment, employment advice, Employment law, Flexible working, HR Advice, HR help, HR policy, HR portal, Policies    No Comments

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The East Midlands Chamber has made financial predictions that Euro 2016 could give a £33.3m boost for the Nottinghamshire economy – which is positive news for local businesses. However, employers are being warned that businesses in Nottinghamshire could also be hit by £2.7M due to lost productivity when England plays Wales on Thursday, June 16. The hit would be from sick days, internet browsing or time spent on social media.

Keep it fair and follow the rules… so the red cards are at a minimum

Flexibility for both employees and employers during the tournament is the key to a happy workforce and a productive business. It may be possible to have a flexible working day, swap shifts, change break times, be flexible with holiday requests or have the option to listen to the radio. Make sure that you have an agreement in place for watching TV, Sickness absence, time off and internet usage.

Sickness Absence 

Remember to continue to monitor sickness during this time in line with your company policy. Unauthorised absence, and patterns of absence could result in formal proceedings, this could include high levels of sickness, or lateness due to the post match hangover.

Use of websites or Social media 

There may be increased usage of social media (Facebook, Twitter etc) , websites and Apps during the world cup. Make sure your policies are up to date about the use of the web and social media at work. If as an employer you are monitoring internet usage, you need to make it clear to employees that it is happening, as the data protection rules require you to do this.

Drinking or being under the influence 

Most people like a drink whilst watching the football but It is important to remember that anyone caught drinking at work or under the influence of alcohol at work could be subject to disciplinary procedures. Make sure you have a clear alcohol policy.

Don’t wait for the final whistle if you need help!

If you need help with your policies, or if you need help and advice around the issues discussed, please give me a call on 01623 663 246.

Many thanks,

Luke Rees

Partner and Commercial & Employment Solicitor.

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Absence Management, Flexible working, holiday, holiday entitlement, HR Advice, HR help, HR policy, weather    No Comments


OK, So the sun has been out for a few days in a row now and this means lovely warm temperatures outside, but what about your employees ( apologies now if it rains for the rest of the summer following this blog  –  we accept no liability for the weather!)

Acas has published new guidance http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=5349 to help employers manage workplace challenges due to the hot weather. It advises employers to:

  • Ensure that workplace temperatures inside buildings during working hours are ‘reasonable’;
  • Switch on any air conditioning and use any blinds or curtains to block out sunlight;
  • Ensure that staff who work outside are wearing appropriate clothing and use sun screen to protect from sunburn;
  • Provide suitable drinking water in the workplace;
  • Consider relaxing dress codes or uniform requirements, for example by relaxing rules for wearing ties or suits
  • Consider making adjustments for vulnerable workers such as young and elderly workers, pregnant workers and those on medication. For example – giving them more frequent rest breaks and by ensuring that ventilation is adequate by providing fans, or portable air cooling units;
  • Encourage staff who travel to work by train to check with local train operators whether any speed restrictions are in place or any cancellations are expected so that they can plan their journeys to work accordingly.

Most of this is common sense, but it is always worth making sure you have considered everything for your employees as you are responsible for their well being when they are at work.

If you require any further HR Advice then please give Luke Rees a call on 01623 45 11 11.

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HR Advice    No Comments



The recent conviction of a UK business owner for a human trafficking offence has been a wake-up call to big businesses to carefully monitor their supply chain, if they are to avoid being connected to slave labour unwittingly.

But with the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 now in force, companies of every size need to check out where they stand, even if they are a small supplier much further down the supply chain.

With the new regulations now enforceable for any business with a financial year ending on or after 31st March 2016, many smaller companies may have checked the headline criteria and assumed they are not going to be affected by the Act, as the requirements apply only to organisations which carry on business in the UK with a global turnover of more than £36million, including subsidiaries.

Those companies that fit the criteria must provide a statement of the steps they are taking to ensure that no forced labour or human trafficking is taking place in any part of their business or supply chain.  The slavery and human trafficking statement must be published on their website, with a prominent link on their homepage.

And the catch for smaller companies lies in where they sit in any such supply chain, many of which may be complex, as they are likely to find more questions being asked from the top of the supply chain. The result could be pressure on smaller companies to undertake detailed supply chain auditing themselves, in order to satisfy the demands of those larger companies.

In the case of the recent conviction, the owner of UK bed-making business Kozee Sleep was convicted of conspiracy to traffic by Leeds Crown Court and sentenced to 27 months in prison.  Mohammed Rafiq’s trial followed the conviction of two Hungarian gangmasters who were found guilty of supplying Kozee Sleep’s UK factories with slave labour.  They had promised Hungarian nationals good wages and housing, but instead the workers found themselves held in squalid conditions, not allowed to travel and made to work up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week, for less than £2 per day.   Kozee Sleep’s beds were being supplied to a number of leading high street retailers, who had set out their ethical trading requirements, which Kozee Sleep failed to meet.

According to the Anti-Slavery Commissioner, this is not an isolated incident and many other cases are expected to go to trial.  Another, involving Lithuanian workers experiencing inhuman working and living conditions, involved a poultry farm which is in the supply chain of well-known brand Happy Egg.

In the introduction to the corporate guidelines for the Act, Home Secretary Theresa May says:  “Modern slavery is a heinous crime that affects communities and individuals across the globe. Organisations with significant resources and purchasing power are in a unique and very strong position to influence global supply chains. It is not acceptable for organisations to ignore the issue because it is difficult or complex.”

If a business fails to produce a slavery and human trafficking statement for a particular financial year, the Secretary of State may seek an injunction through the High Court requiring them to comply. If they still do not comply, they will be in contempt of a court order, punishable by an unlimited fine.

Following the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, there is going to be increasingly close attention on how global businesses are tackling potential slave labour in the supply chain.  For the £36 million plus companies, there needs to be clear responsibility for compliance with the Act, with due diligence to identify potential risk of contravention of the Act in any part of the supply chain.

At first glance, slavery may seem a million miles away from your business, but unfortunately that is not the case, and directors, and buyers in particular, should keep the topic in mind as they trade, whatever their company size.

For any further employment or HR questions please call Shirley at Fidler HR  on 01623 45 11 11

Image reference: https://pixabay.com/en/burden-heavy-man-overworked-people-1296754/

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compromise agreement, dismissal, Employment, employment advice, employment claim, employment contract, employment contracts, Employment law, HR Advice, Redundancy, Redundancy selection, settlement agreement, tax, unfair dismissal    No Comments

Settlement agreements ( formerly compromise agreements) are very useful for both employees and employers.images

But will the payment  be taxable?

They have lots of benefits to both.

They can produce a result that is definite for both parties and binding on both of them.

They can  ensure confidentiality that wouldn’t be there from Court or tribunal proceedings, and confidentiality from a generous settlement that might not be offered to other employees.

They can cover many levels of payment and sometimes very large payments.

The tax treatment on them is also generous.

The first £30,000 of  a ‘compensation’ or ‘severance’ payment   will usually be treated by HMRC as tax free provided it fits in their scheme (but make sure that you include the non cash benefits such as company car benefits or the like which HMRC will convert to a cash value for this purpose).

The most difficult area is when an employer tries to present what are contractual earnings  (weekly/monthly/annual pay) as a compensation payment and seeks to agree it as  tax free under the same provision.

This is not possible and has never been possible.

HMRC will always treat contractual payments are taxable, no matter what they are called or dressed up as in an agreement.

Signing an agreement thinking anything else is always a risk, and there will be a clause stating the employee bears the burden of that risk.

The latest case on this (Michael Phillips V Revenue and Customs Commissioners [2016] UKFTT 174) makes this clear but also addresses a loophole on payment in lieu of notice, and the lack of a employment clause for this.

Mr Phillips had an employment contract that had a 6 month notice period, but not for payment in lieu of notice.

His employer terminated the contract and they signed a settlement agreement, that stated that Mr Phillip’s would receive £15,000 for payment for loss of employment, £47521  in lieu of notice and other payments.

HMRC said the payment in lieu of notice was taxable and Mr Phillips argued it wasn’t as it fell under  section 403 Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 (the ‘£30,000 allowance provision’)

The Court confirmed that in this case, there was no contractual  entitlement to payment in lieu of notice.

For that reason  Mr Phillips could say that they were not ‘earnings’ and shouldn’t be treated that way  and therefore had the benefit of the £30,000 tax free treatment.

Clearly these decisions are important as making the most of the tax treatment can benefit both employer and employee when agreeing terms of settlement.

And undoubtedly the law is complicated on these topics.

Should you need advice on making a settlement agreement whether as employee or employer we are happy to assist in drafting and advising on such agreements.

Please call Russell Jones on 01623 451111 or email at rjones@fidler.co.uk




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National Minimum Wage    No Comments

freeimages.co.uk workplace images

The National Living Wage has been catching headlines since Chancellor George Osborne announced it last summer, but the Government’s target of £9 per hour by 2020 has overshadowed the detail, and many businesses remain unaware of the transitional deadlines and new penalties now in place. 

The compulsory National Living Wage (NLW) arrives on 1 April 2016 for eligible workers aged 25 and over, and it’s been set at £7.20 per hour.   But the NLW does not replace the current National Minimum Wage, it sits alongside and is a new premium tier solely for those aged over 25.  For everyone under the age of 25, the National Minimum Wage continues to apply.

The new NLW is different also from the ‘Living Wage’, which is an hourly rate of pay calculated to cover the basic cost of living in the UK.  It’s assessed by the independent action group Living Wage Foundation and most recently has been calculated at £8.25 per hour, or £9.40 per hour in London.

When the NLW arrives on 1st April 2016 all eligible employees – whether permanent workers, agency workers, casual labourers or agricultural workers – who are aged 25 or over must be paid at £7.20 per hour, a pay rise of 50p per hour, whilst other workers will continue to be entitled to the following rates:

  • 21-25 years old – £6.70 per hour
  • 18-20 years old – £5.30 per hour
  • Under 18 years old – £3.87 per hour
  • Apprentices – £3.30 per hour

Implementing the National Living Wage for eligible over 25’s is not something that should be ignored or delayed, as there are stiff penalties in place.   Employers can be fined 200% of the amount owed if arrears are not paid within 14 days and receive fines of up to £20,000 per worker.

It is very  important to avoid any age-related practices that set out to reduce the number of employees eligible for the higher rate.  Any dismissals of older employees, even with less than two years service, could see employers facing an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal and age discrimination.  It’s the same for recruitment, employers must avoid demonstrating any preferences for younger workers.

The National Living Wage is expected to increase each year, with recommendations for future rises being made by the Low Pay Commission, as the Government continues its objective towards ‘higher pay and higher productivity’ in place of ‘low wage, high welfare’.

For any questions regarding this please contact Shirley Atkinson FidlerHR 01623 45 11 11

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employment update, HR help, Uncategorized    No Comments

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When an employee’s performance at work isn’t quite up to scratch it’s often treated as a disciplinary matter – unless a company  has its own capability procedures to deal with it.

Poor performance and poor behavior can both be dealt with under disciplinary procedures, and the way managers should investigate, write to the employee, hold meetings and deal with appeals are the same.

Not quite the same

But there is an important difference. Firm’s should be aware that the actions taken at the first stage are not the same.

In job performance issues, the employee should receive an improvement note explaining what needs to be done to bring standards up to an acceptable level within a certain time frame.

This might include coaching or a programme of training to help them make the improvements they need.

But for misconduct issues, an employee would initially get a first written warning, setting out the terms of expected future behavior over a certain period. For example you may say in the warning  that such breaches of conduct must not happen again within 12 months.

Companies that have their own capability procedures may use it for dealing with performance problems. But the basic principles of fairness set out in the ACAS Code of conduct should still be followed with the correct adaptations.

If you have you need help with your policies  please contact : Shirley Atkinson FidlerHR  01623 45 11 11

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Apprenticeships    No Comments

images (14)

As it is National Apprentice Week, many people will be considering an apprenticeship seeking to start their career and build on the skills that school have given to them. This can be a fantastic opportunity for your business by growing your own talent within your business.

What is an Apprenticeship?

An Apprenticeship is a great opportunity for young people to earn a wage, train in a role, in real employment gain real qualifications. Apprenticeships give young people great experience and put them on the first steps of the ladder.

Depending on the type of business you have, an Apprenticeship will take between one and four years to complete.

As employees apprentices would normally be expected to work for at least 30 hours per week, for which employers can receive funding from the National Apprentice Service, however, funding will depend on the sector and the age of the apprentice

Businesses get the opportunity to train and grow their own talent within the business and see many other business benefits.

96% of employers that take on an apprentice report benefits to their business, and 72% of businesses report improved productivity as a result of employing an apprentice. Also  reported by around two-thirds of employers include improved products or services, new ideas being introduced to the organisation, better morale among staff and more staff staying with the organization”.

Source: apprentiship.org.uk (2014)

Key Benefits

  • Apprenticeships develop a motivated workforce.

“Businesses that offer Apprenticeships think that they help with their long-term development”.  – British Chambers of Commerce.

This can include strategic, business and workforce planning. Staff involvement in training and nurturing of an apprentice.

Apprenticeships can encourage loyalty and commitment to the organization, through continued development of the individual and career progression after the apprenticeship has ended.

  • Apprenticeships improve productivity

Apprenticeships boost productivity by helping businesses to expand and use the skills available in the organization. More effectively this is as simple as just having the extra capacity to take on more work through employing the apprentice.

  • Apprenticeships develop a skilled and qualified workforce.

Apprentices are supported by quality training from local training organizations. This can include day release to college in some courses, or the training provider will come to your work place this varies from course to course.

Businesses usually employ an apprentice to improve and enhance the skills available within their organization, including existing employee’s transferring valuable knowledge to apprentices.

  • Grow your own talent with an apprentice

Apprentices essentially start with very little knowledge of your business, and are new to the world of work and grow in to a valuable member of the company, with specific knowledge, and the potential for progression, which creates loyalty.

Apprenticeships work in any industry and any sector. As apprentices are trained by existing members of the company the knowledge and skill transfer to the apprentice can be invaluable to the business moving for ward in to the future and the succession planning of the business. Along with having a skilled work force, this will also be a qualified workforce. The qualifications are relevant to the business, this can also help to cover any skills gaps their may be within the business, this can be a way around recruitment issues when candidates are sparse.

Shirley Atkinson 01623 45 11 11

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