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Negotiating a Settlement Agreement? 4 Common Mistakes to Avoid!

When you receive a settlement agreement you are wondering if it is negotiable. The long and short answer is that, yes it can be. However, I would advise against the following common mistakes that can set you back:

  1. Accepting the first offer without proper consideration or advice
    Often employees are caught unawares when the employer pulls them into a room and makes an offer and wants an immediate response – you should judge the situation carefully and ask for a few days or even hours to think about the offer – on occasions it can be difficult to unpick and negotiate an offer- that an employer says the employee has ‘accepted’. Unfortunately, it is a tactic used by some employers.
  2. Failing to demonstrate your leverage
    How desperate is your employer to let you go, the more desperate they are the more they may be prepared to offer you to leave. Remember, the maximum you can achieve in an employment tribunal is 12 months pay for Unfair Dismissal (for discrimination it can be more), so if you are seeking this amount – what incentive is there for the employer to offer you this sum now?Identify the employer’s pressure points, for example do they need you to complete an important project are they desperate for you to go quietly or already have your replacement waiting or are they worried you may go work for a competitor or set up in competition. Or do they really want to avoid going through a redundancy process or to deal with your grievance. Or perhaps, you may have a potential claim. Once identified, bring it to their attention amicably and respectfully – let the employer know what you are ‘giving up’.
  3. Destroying Goodwill
    From experience there is no better way to achieve a higher sum then showing goodwill and keeping things amicable as possible. Rightly, you may be upset with the employer’s decision to let you go, but you need to act smart and try not sour the relationship or challenge the decision aggressively –  there may be little tactical advantage in doing this, as its incredibly rare for an employer to change their mind once a decision has been made to let you go.This of course is not always possible, but where there is goodwill, use it to your advantage don’t destroy it, mention your significant contributions towards the success of the business,  give examples of your dedication and commitment in the past, explain how difficult it would be to find another job and how long this could take you, explain the difficulty for you and the adverse impact on your family with losing your job.
  4. Negotiating without a solicitor
    Let’s face it your employer is most likely being advised by HR and/or their lawyers, so quite possibly the employer will have their negotiating tactics and plans set well in place – why should you be disadvantaged from getting a better deal?At the very least, speak to a lawyer as most lawyers will offer free initial guidance, a great tip or two could help enhance the offer.

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