It was announced this week that confidential pre-termination negotiations as contained in Section 14 of Vince’s Cables Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 will be implemented on the 29th July 2013. Follow the link to the commencement order. The new concept of “Confidential pre-termination negotiation” means that employers will now be able to have a “protected conversation” with an employee about terminating their employment under agreed terms within a “Settlement Agreement” (the new name for Compromise agreements as of 29th July) without a prior dispute being necessary.
Such conversations will be “protected conversations” and will not be able to be used by the employee in any potential tribunal proceedings. This is clearly a significant change from the previous rule of “without prejudice” which required a previous dispute to be apparent for the conversation to be protected. It is however worth noting that these new “protected conversations” will be limited to unfair dismissal claims. Automatic unfair and discrimination cases will not be covered under this sanction. A structured format will also need to be followed by the employer if they wish for their conversation to be “protected” and Acas have recently published their Code of Practice on Using Settlement Agreements to encompass the new legislation for pre-termination Negotiations. Should you require further information on the new legislation or if you intend to offer a Settlement Agreement to an employee in the future please do contact Astons for further legal advice and support.
Written Edward Aston
15th July 2013