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Settlement Agreement - How much am I allowed to say?

(16 Posts)
Tigermoth15 Fri 13-Oct-17 22:18:31

I posted here previously regarding my previous workplace placing me in a position that caused my health to suffer significantly due to migraines and stress, had major projects removed and bullying from managers but had to ask for the thread to be removed due to lots of personal info that could have identified me. A quick update, I took the advice of people on here (which was excellent BTW) and received so much support, especially from daisychain01 and Arkengarthdale so before I go further, thank you both from the bottom of my heart.

After much stress, I went through a grievance and a grievance appeal process in which my workplace exonerated the managers concerned despite being presented with black and white hard evidence in the form of time stamped emails from the people concerned in which they condemned themselves from their own mouths. It was a complete whitewash and my union rep was so disgusted that she insisted I take out a tribunal claim which was underwritten by the union ( i was surprised as I hadn't been a member for very long and this was whenfees for tribunals were still in operation). My workplace consistently denied that they thought I was disabled under the Equality Act 2010 and insisted upon sending me to more OH appointments that resulted in the consultant telling them that he did not understand why they were sending me to him as they just chose to consistently ignore his advice. My SSP ended and I had to then apply for ESA. I was then sent to medical with the DWP and was assessed by someone who is a disability assessor for the government and came away with a functional disability report that covered anxiety and stress. My claim had to pass several hurdles before it could be lodged and I had a preliminary hearing back in July. My employer tried to say they did not think I was disabled but the judge refused to accept this and their request for another hearing to ascertain whether I met the criteria for disability and said there was more than enough evidence to show I was and allowed my claim to pass and I was given a tribunal date. After further to-ing and fro-ing, my employer offered to settle and I came away with 6 months salary plus outstanding AL plus other benefits I was entitled to and an agreed reference that I had to fight really hard for. Now, I want to approach senior colleagues from my former organisation for a proper reference but haven't breathed a word about what has gone on and just wondering what to say to them when they ask what has happened. Can I say 'I can't say anything as I am subject to a legal agreement" or "I am subject to the terms of a settlement agreement" but not discuss details? Also, what do I say at interviews and job hunting as I can't say redundancy although the lawyer said 'by mutual agreement' but i do wonder of that will set prospective employers thinking that I am a troublemaker? If anyone has ideas on how to tackle these two issues, I would be really grateful x

prh47bridge Fri 13-Oct-17 23:36:28

By "former organisation" do you mean the employers before this? If so I certainly wouldn't volunteer anything. If asked I would just say something like, "sorry, I am not at liberty to discuss that".

Did your settlement agreement include an agreed reference from the employer? If so, does that give a reason for leaving? If it does you will need to stick to that. If it doesn't you can say pretty much whatever you want as they won't get anything that will tell them otherwise. In my experience, "redundancy" is usually given as the reason when a settlement agreement is involved.

Glad your previous employer was forced to give you a decent payout after the way they treated you.

Tigermoth15 Sat 14-Oct-17 00:02:49

prh47bridge thanks very much for your reply. Yes, two senior managers who worked closely on projects with me for nearly ten years in the organisation I recently left under the terms of the SA. The two managers who were my actual line managers in nominal terms only and had nothing to do with my actual work are not people I will ever have anything to do with again and also are in no position to comment upon work undertaken anyway. No reason for leaving is in the agreement. I just wondered what to say when I approach these these senior colleagues from a different division as they are bound to ask. If I am subject to a settlement agreement does that mean I can never use the term settlement agreement in conversation even if I do not divulge any other details?

daisychain01 Sat 14-Oct-17 07:11:10

Hi Tigermoth, great to hear from you and glad the worst is over. It is good that you received a reasonable settlement agreement although the suffering you had to go through and the year out of your life can never be compensated.

If I remember correctly, you had been with the company for 7 years so the factual reference they’ve given you as part of the Settlement Agreement will be meaningful due to the duration you worked there. That should be adequate to get a new job. Factual references are so common nowadays that anything more is a bonus but not a requirement for seeking work.

I know how important positive affirmations from value colleagues and staff are from a morale perspective, but the risk is that they try to engage you in conversation which touches on why you left, which would breach the terms of your SA. Do you want to risk that?

Maybe emailing them “hi, hope all is well. I have a new job opportunity and it would be great if you could say a few words about my contribution in Project XYZ so I can pass your valued comments my prospective employer”.

Anything more will risk the conversation moving into a territory you can’t get into.

I’m glad they made a payment to give you time to rebuild your life. Believe me, when you get into a new company it will transform you and you’ll feel back to being the real Tigermoth.

daisychain01 Sat 14-Oct-17 07:23:18

Settlement Agreement references are often bland, years of employment only, rarely any reason for leaving. Increasingly, employees move around, it isn’t a job for life anymore and people’s reason for leaving is left up to the employee to explain. Too many legal actions and ETs nowadays, so employers refuse to do anything more than the bare minimum! But that’s a good thing, because it puts everyone on a level playing field, andit helps people to move forward, gain new employment and one’s performance speaks for itself in the new company.

MySecretThread Sat 14-Oct-17 09:25:42

That's a great update. I've followed your threads but not commented much as I've no knowledge or the subject. I'm just glad that everything has worked out. flowersflowersflowers

BTW. It's lovely to see other knowledgeable posters being so helpful and kind. smile

Normalserviceissuspended Sun 15-Oct-17 00:48:13

A senior manager would be giving a reference on behalf of the company. You have the company agreed reference already. I would be surprised if they would be ale to give a different reference.

Tigermoth15 Mon 06-Nov-17 22:43:58

Hi everyone, me again and would like your opinion please. My employment officially ended in September and we had agreement in principle. After to-ing and fro-ing about the agreed reference, the SA was signed by my side in the middle of October and my ex-employer's side ten days later. They immediately wrote to the tribunal to withdraw the case after receiving my documents but have kept me waiting for the actual SA payment which is supposed to be in my account tomorrow although this was only communicated after the solictoir chased them. It now transpires that they have said I will have to wait until the end of the month/first week of December for my P45 and until the end of the tax year for my P45.

Now they have behaved atrociously throughout this whole process and I have had to fight an uphill battle every step of the way. They have consistently treated me in a high handed manner even down to their communications which have bordered on downright incivility and this despite my working for them for 10 years and being very well thought of, even down to being petty over the agreed reference (which even my solicitor said was unnecessary and demonstrated that this was a personal dig at me!)

Now that I am no longer an employee, I don't see why I should put up with them behaving in this fashion. There is no reason whatsoever to keep me waiting this long for my P45. I just want all ties to them broken and this is starting to feel like them yet again dictating everything, working at the pace that suits them and almost as though they are demonstrating their 'power' over me once again. I want to write to tell my solicitor to tell them they have 7 working days to produce my P45 (given that they have had an agreement in principle since September) or I will get in touch with HMRC. Is that reasonable do you think?

Tigermoth15 Mon 06-Nov-17 23:13:07

I also wanted to say sorry for not being back on sooner. I am being treated for depression and anxiety and have been in rather a big slump. This things has rattled on for over a year and I have been feeling like a marathon runner who just crossed the finish line and all their energy has drained. I can't thank everyone here enough but especially daisy and Ark for their absolutely invaluable help and support. I can truthfully say that I would not have got through it without them. Right now I just want all ties cut but it feels like every time I think I can relax and tink thank goodness it is over, it is like the finishing oost is moved ten feet further away so I feel like I am constantly having to chase. I am now going for weekly CBT sessions which have done nothing for me so far and take tablets for the anxiety/depression so please forgive me for not coming back on sooner to say thank you. I just haven't been in a good place.

Tigermoth15 Mon 06-Nov-17 23:15:40

Mysecret - this has been the most wonderful resource. I have learned so much on this thread. I have found out that I wasn't the only one feeling the way I was or things happening were not just happening to me. People have shared their experiences and advice, their time and their care. The kindness and support has been incredible and I feel so very grateful for each and every reply I have received flowers flowersflowers

Tigermoth15 Mon 06-Nov-17 23:22:58

Normalservice and Daisy, I took your advice and used the words you suggested. The company were extremely petty when it came to the reference. They initially gave one that made it sound as though all I had done for ten years was answer phones and do photocopying so I wrote my own factual reference including emails to back up everything I said I had done (my managers and the HR team all had far less years of service than me and were not in a position to comment upon duties prior to their employment) They sent it back with red lines all the way through everything that I had written and put forward a version of the original that was about 70% better but that left out so much and omitted large chunks of my role but by this stage all I could think was 'I just want to get rid of the f***ers' and said I would sign only to bring the association with them to an end. It was totally unecessary. Even the solicitor was disgusted. She said my employers weren't the worst she had dealt with but they weren't far off and their behaviour just proved that they were treating it as a personal vendetta against me. people at work have asked me what has happened and I have just said I can't discuss it, many have guessed but I just say I can't say anything. Having been there for nearly 11 years, with an excellent reputation and being openly acknowledged as good at what I did - people are thnking it strange that I have just disappeared, no leavig drinks or cards or gifts etc and they know something dodgy has gone on.

daisychain01 Tue 07-Nov-17 05:01:48

Hi Tigermoth Im really sorry things have been very difficult even at this late stage.

I don’t think your solicitor has worked in your best interests sad they ought to have managed your situation a lot better, for example it was definitely not down to your ex employers to withdraw your ET claim! Your solicitor should have kept a tighter reign on that and only have agreed to withdraw when they felt satisfied that everything was in place, including all agreements about the reference, P45 etc. It should all have been done and dusted before you were prepared to withdraw, that was your sword of Damocles over them. But anyway what’s done is done, you are near that finish line even if it feels like it’s shifting!

I personally would not have asked them for a testimonial reference. The stress it has caused you isn’t worth it, when all a new employer cares about is your dates of employment. Very few if any employers offer testimonial references, so it wouldn’t look strange to a new recruiter to see a bland ref. Your solicitor should have made that clear to you and guided you better.

Regarding your P45, your solicitor could get them to provide it, but it’s more cost as they will probably charge you in their fees, but honestly I wouldn’t worry unduly. If you have been PAYE since April 5, any earnings inc SSP will already be declared to HMRC, plus if your leaving date was in Sept, it will only include the past 5 months’ earnings so it isn’t even for half a year. They should legally provide your P45 to the new employer, but don’t allow them to get to you. It will eventually sort itself out.

The key thing is to try to rebuild your health and focus on you, so that you can move forward in your life. New year, new you smile

Tigermoth15 Tue 07-Nov-17 11:36:08

Thanks Daisy. I agree because now they have got rid of me and the claim has been withdrawn there is absolutely no incentoive for them to hurry up. I have written a strongly worded letter to my solicitor this morning asking for my P45 within 7 working days and for the money to be in my account by close of play today. The reference was what they offered and dosn't actually give a testimonial as such but lists my job title, length of service and job duties. Do you know they were even going to get the senior manager I took the grievance out against to be the signatory on any references for me until I pointed out how inappropriate that was! I think I just want to draw a big line under it all and move on but can't because there is always another bit of business to be taken care of then another then another with this thing. I agree the solicitor shouold have been really firm on deliverables and dates before withdrawing the claim. You live and learn hey, hopefully I will never have to deal with anything like this ever again but oyu never know with employers these days.

Daisy, thank you thank you thank you so very much for everything you have done for me. You have been the most helpful, commonsense advisor and I couldn't have done this without you and your advice. I wish I could send you real flowers but hope the sentiment behind these conveys something flowers flowersflowersflowersflowers

ForgivenessIsDivine Thu 09-Nov-17 15:55:32

Contact HMRC regarding your P45.

Quote from a google search, reply to similar question, received from HMRC
'As stated in the extract from regulation 36 above, the employer must complete form P45 on
the day the employee ceases, or if that is not possible without unreasonable delay. HMRC
would generally consider it unreasonable if the P45 was not completed and sent to
HMRC/provided to the former employee immediately after tax and any other deductions are
calculated for the ex-employees final pay period. In cases where the employer uses payroll
software, this often means the point at which the next payroll process run takes place.

Guidance on this point can be found under the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the
HMRC Website:

3. If a P45 is not issued for whatever reason what action does HMRC take?

If HMRC were made aware that form P45 had not been provided, HMRC would attempt to
contact the employer by telephone first and, if there is no response or it is not possible to
make contact by telephone, would issue a form P43 to the employer requesting they send
HMRC the P45 Part 1 information. Consideration would also be given as to whether HMRC’s
Employer Compliance staff should intervene to obtain the P45. '

Tigermoth15 Fri 10-Nov-17 11:52:19

Forgiveness thank you so much for this. It is really helpful xx

daisychain01 Sat 11-Nov-17 08:09:32

I have been happy to support you through some dark times Tigermoth, and nice to see you have come through it now with your SA in your bank account. You are better off out of that company. Believe me, there are good companies out there that treat their staff well, so don’t let it put you off looking for a company where you can be happy and valued!

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