A without prejudice meeting allows both employer and employee to have an “off the record” meeting, the content of which cannot be relied upon in an employment tribunal at a later date. The meeting can be initiated by either employee or employer at any stage where there appears to be a dispute. This can, for instance, arise where an employer is about to discipline the employee, or conversely if the employee has filed a grievance and wishes to explore a possible negotiated settlement.
It opens the way for a frank discussion about the employment relationship and how it has broken down and will most often conclude with an agreement on an exit package through a formal Settlement Agreement. The exit package will usually include a payment in lieu of your notice period plus a payment to the employee, which is usually tax-free up to the first £30,000. As well as a financial arrangement, the Settlement Agreement will also include other agreed points, such as those regarding restrictive covenants and work employee references.
What Does “Without Prejudice” Mean?
The without prejudice rule is a legal principle which serves to prevent statements from being put before the court as evidence against the person who made them where there is a genuine attempt to settle an existing dispute. The idea is that parties can speak freely, without the fear that what they have said may be used against them in court should the discussions fail.
The rules involved in making a Settlement Agreement include the requirement for the document to be in writing and signed by a witness. It is also necessary for the employee to seek professional advice before signing the Agreement. We recommend you seek expert legal advice from an experienced Employment Lawyer from the outset to ensure your best interests are met. For more information, see our page on Settlement Agreements.
Work References & Settlement Agreements
Usually, a positive work reference from your employer will be discussed at the without prejudice meeting, which will then be entered as a term of the Settlement Agreement document.
Restrictive Covenants & Settlement Agreements
Often employers include restrictive covenants in the employment contract or within the Settlement Agreement itself. A restrictive covenant is a term in the contract which will restrict you for a set period in the types of employment you can work in. For example, this could be a restriction on working in the industry for a competitor. The terms of the restrictive covenant may need to be reviewed at a without prejudice meeting. Expert legal advice is important for both employers and employees at this stage. Often, for employees, these restrictions can be too onerous and may hinder your career development, which is why it is important that an expert Employment Lawyer is instructed.
Time limits & Restrictive Covenants
It is important that with any settlement proposal that employers give employees reasonable time to consider their offer. ACAS’ recommendation is ten days. The offer may not be reduced over time in the hope that the employer makes a decision faster, nor can the employer say that the employee will be dismissed in any case if the offer is refused.
Similar to without prejudice meetings, “protected conversations” are another type of “off the record” discussion between employer and employee. There does not need to be a dispute for these conversations to take place, and usually they will focus on conduct or capability. This means the employer can initiate a protected conversation to speak to you about an issue with your standard of work, for example. Unless the conversation involves allegations of discrimination or whistleblowing, the protected conversation will remain off the record.
Cavendish Employment Solicitors London
We are a City law firm with a high profile and an enviable track record in advising and representing employees from all parts of the employment spectrum, including fund managers, senior insurance brokers, leading bankers, hedge fund managers, middle-managers and ancillary staff. We advise employees on all areas of employment law, disciplinary methods and dismissal, and arrange Settlement Agreements regularly for our clients. Our expert Employment Law Solicitors always make it their business to get you the best possible outcome.
When employers discover we are advising their staff, they take the issues very seriously. We have successfully handled countless cases for employees; secured very significant pay outs for City employees and have a remarkable record of success at the employment tribunal representation.
Contact our Lawyers for Without Prejudice Meeting Advice London
Cavendish Employment Law Limited is a specialist City employment practice, and as a niche firm, we are able to focus on delivering the best possible advice and service for all aspects of employment law. From our team of Employment Lawyers in London and across the UK, we can select the right expert for you, tailored to suit your case and with expertise in the claim or defence you have. Through a combination of regular employment updates, training and tailored advice, Cavendish Employment Law provides a service that protects employees throughout their careers. In the event that you wish to bring a claim, Cavendish Employment Law has a wealth of experience in advising and representing clients in the courts and tribunals.
If you are facing any difficulties at work or if your employer has discussed a without prejudice meeting or the possibility of a Settlement Agreement with you, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. Because we specialise only in employment law, we can focus on delivering an unrivalled service with sensible and flexible cost options. Our advice is always practical, down to earth and effective for all aspects of the employer and employee relationship. Providing swift, responsive advice tailored to you, our flexible payment options include fixed and capped fees, hourly charges and, depending on the value of the claim, we can provide “no win, no fee” advice.
For expert employment law advice you can rely on, contact our Employment Lawyers on 020 7167 4800 or complete our online enquiry form.