As lawyers specialising in employment law, we are often asked to advise employees who wish to move on from their current employer for a variety of reasons and don’t just want to resign and walk away although that is often something they seriously consider.
The reasons for this desire to move can include:
- That they feel they have been treated badly by their employer;
- That they are suffering stress or have some other ill health issue due to workplace culture including presenteeism and working long hours;
- That they feel that they have been discriminated against because of a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 such as sex, age, race, disability or in relation to pregnancy;
- That they feel that they have been harassed in the workplace; and
- The possibility of potential future changes to their role.
If you are facing a difficult time at work, there are a number of things you should consider, such as:
Obtaining legal advice early on. Obtaining advice will help you to understand the potential employment law claims you may have against your employer and therefore the strength of your position. Some people seek advice when it is too late. For example, if you have already resigned it can make your negotiating position very difficult. Additionally, bringing a claim in the Employment Tribunal has strict time limits (usually, 3 months from a particular event occurring or the termination of employment). Even if you do not plan to bring a claim, it will be important to appreciate the position and understand your options so that you stay one step ahead of your employer.
Considering what compensation you will potentially be entitled to – and look at other aspects of a possible deal. Plainly, monetary compensation is important and having obtained legal advice early on you will be able to understand what it is realistic to ask for. However, there are other aspects of exit packages which may be similarly valuable to you such as receiving an apology or being offered alternative employment within the organisation. Additionally, there are other elements of an exit package which may be equally valuable such as agreeing a positive reference, negotiating the extent of post-termination restrictions or having access to outplacement assistance.
Think about what is important to you. We have acted for clients who have told us that they could not face going into the office and felt physically sick at the thought of doing so. Being able to talk through the situation can help you obtain clarity on what to do. One client decided she could not continue in her situation and that she had to resign. She wasn’t interested in seeking compensation from her employer but felt that a weight had been lifted as she was able to take control and resign on her own terms.
Shut out some of the noise. Employees, quite rightly, often take advice from friends, family and (sometimes, colleagues) in order to assist them in making a decision about their employment. Those confidantes may often recognise various signs of stress which an employee may have become accustomed to as being the norm. However, it should be borne in mind that sometimes those close to you also feel aggrieved at the situation and will encourage you to take things to court or employment tribunal. This may not necessarily be the right decision for you, whether emotionally or financially. Trust yourself, you will know what the right decision for you is.
Obtain advice on the terms of any proposed settlement agreement. Often an employer will agree to pay some compensation to you to leave your employment and, if so, you will be asked to sign a settlement agreement. It is a legal requirement that prior to signing the agreement that you have a lawyer review the agreement and advise you on its terms and effect. Sometimes it is possible to agree some additional terms, such as a leaving announcement which sets out your departure in the best possible light.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are having a difficult time at work and would like an initial confidential discussion. We usually have a brief initial conversation free of charge, where we can set out how we can help and what the likely costs going forward would be.