Can I bring a work colleague to a settlement discussion?

Companions and settlement agreement discussions

Emma Newbould Employment Solicitor at Forbes Solicitors answers…

Legal right?

There is no legal requirement for your employer to allow you to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague at a settlement agreement discussion (also known as a ‘protected conversation’) but it is good practice for them to do so.  Allowing you to be accompanied could actually help to progress settlement discussions.

If you receive advance notice of a protected conversation, there is no reason why you cannot ask to be accompanied; although your employer will not be legally obliged to grant your request.

No pressure to accept offer 

Even if you are not accompanied to a settlement agreement discussion, you shouldn’t worry.

You are under no obligation to accept a settlement agreement if you don’t want to.  

Reasonable time to accept

After being offered a settlement agreement, you are entitled to a reasonable amount of time to consider the proposal and to take independent legal advice – you do not need to make a decision immediately.  As general rule, you should be given a minimum period of 10 calendar days to do this, unless you agree otherwise.  

If your employer does not allow you reasonable time to consider a settlement agreement and to take independent advice, this may amount to ‘improper behaviour’.  The normal rule is that any offer of a settlement agreement and any related discussions cannot be used as evidence in a subsequent claim of ordinary unfair dismissal, but where an employer has behaved inappropriately, this rule does not apply.

Answer given on 14 March 2014

IMPORTANT: The contents of this page are for guidance only and do not constitute legal advice. You should consult a solicitor without delay if you require legal advice on a particular employment matter.

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