From time to time we tell you about a Birmingham employment law case we have recently dealt with. Our other stories are here. This is the story of Eva from Solihull. Settlement agreements are bread and butter to us and we deal with several every month.

Eva had a decent job working in middle management but fell out with her manager after a miscommunication by email that left egos bruised.

She was offered a settlement agreement under which she would leave quiety for her notice pay without having to work her notice, with the threat of “an HR process” if she didn’t accept it.

She looked for employment lawyers in Birmingham and found us.

We advised that, as she had more than two years’ service, she couldn’t be dismissed without a fair reason and there didn’t seem to be one here. She thought that she could find another job within three months but it wasn’t guaranteed. So she was looking for anything more than three months’ notice.

However, her employers weren’t actually threatening to dismiss her if she didn’t accept the deal.

We offered  her a deal under which we would negotiate with the employer and seek six months pay instead of three months and charge a percentage (35%) of the extra portion that we managed to negotiate, if any.

The negotiations were protracted. The employer threatened to invite Eva to a disciplinary. We advised her to hold her ground. She had been intemperate in her email but in our view it wasn’t a sackable offence. The employer also alleged that her colleagues were refusing to work with her. Their witnesses didn’t really back that up but they did suggest that Eva had been abusive to them, albeit a long time ago.

An employer is entitled to raise historic disciplinary allegations, if it is only hearing about them for the first time. But the longer that there has been since the events that took place, the less fair it is to punish the employee for them. We advised her to stand firm and ignore the threat.

She attended the disciplinary and once the evidence was out in the open, we put to the employer that they didn’t have enough to dismiss, so she wouldn’t be leaving. Eventually they increased their offer to five months pay but coupled it with a threat to dismiss.

By that stage, we felt that we could advise a deal, because the threat to dismiss made sure there was a legal dispute between the parties. That means that the money on the table could be called compensation (which isn’t taxed) rather than notice pay (which, in certain cases, including Eva’s), is taxed. So, with the additional sum of money that would have gone to the taxman, Eva was able to leave with well over 6 months’ pay, which was enough for her to take the deal.

We finalised the negotiations and tied up the agreement for her, leaving another satisfied customer with a successful Solihull settlement agreement.

Our clients agree to the use of their stories in this Birmingham employment law series but names are changed for anonymity.

By Jason Harbourne

Image courtesy of Michael Coghlan  used under CC