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Brought up equal pay, now offered a settlement agreement

(26 Posts)
PennyPent Fri 20-Oct-17 18:08:17

Hello smile

I joined MN today to be able to sound off anonymously in here about my current situation, which to cut a long story short is that having raised an equal pay claim informally, I now find myself asked to consider a settlement agreement to leave, after 20+ years with the company.

I'm in the most senior role, reporting to the owner. My equal pay issue relates to my predecessor in the role. Two weeks before bringing up equal pay, I was being asked to become a director of two more companies owned by my boss (one of them is his biggest, operating worldwide) so you would imagine this meant that he didn't think I had any performance issues... Anyway, since the pay thing, he's now questioning my focus and motivation after so long with the company hmm and suddenly he thinks it's a good idea that I move on. angry

Obviously the whole thing stinks to high heaven, and I've instructed an employment solicitor to help me. I think it's worth the investment as there are big numbers at stake, I've come to the conclusion that I want out with the maximum payout, in the shortest time possible. He's made an initial low settlement offer, and so it begins...I'm going back with a counter offer on Monday. If we can't settle, I will go for a formal equal pay claim, right to a Tribunal if needs be.

Despite the fighting talk, it's really weird to think that by the end of the year I might not be working there any more. I've been there a lifetime and work with some amazing people.

More generally, and by way of introduction, I live in the south of England, I'm in my late 40s, a single Mum to adult children who live at home and both work, I've got a supportive long term partner (we don't live together). I don't have any legal training, but through work I've had shedloads of experience of all kinds of employment matters, so I hope I'll be able to contribute in here and 'give' as well as 'take' as I use you as a sounding board!

Has anybody been through something similar?

zippydoodaar Fri 20-Oct-17 20:28:51

Can't advise but just wanted to wish you all the best. How absolutely rubbish for you. There is so much salary inequality crap flying about at the moment. It drives me mad!

flowers

Athome77 Fri 20-Oct-17 20:35:20

No advice but good luck.

Penfold007 Fri 20-Oct-17 20:38:56

Yes, I've been through similar recently. They want rid of you and will get their way so go for the best settlement you can. Get their offer in writing, they have to pay for you to take legal advice. I took the advice and got a much better settlement than they offered and an admission of constructive dismisal. Good luck

Fosterdog123 Fri 20-Oct-17 20:51:12

Wow, what a prick of a man. He clearly thinks you should know your place! Well, fuck him then eh! Nail him to the ground and get as much money as you can. He knows he'd lose in tribunal, so you have a fair amount of leverage here. I got a settlement earlier in the year and not working is bloody fantastic!!! Good luck OP and keep us posted.

PennyPent Fri 20-Oct-17 21:36:58

Thank you for the support smile

It’s all a bit surreal. I have to have a meeting next week about a work trip overseas next year that I know I won’t be going on - stuff like that.

I will update here as and when. It’s good to have an outlet for my ramblings...

Fosterdog123 Fri 20-Oct-17 22:04:12

Carry on as normal in work for now. Difficult and yes surreal but it will be much less so when you have a wodge of money sitting in your account!! I was in my job for 10 years at a senior level and I loved it but I also transitioned out of it surprisingly quickly without so much as a backward glance! You will be fine. You'll see it as a blessing eventually.

daisychain01 Fri 20-Oct-17 22:32:15

Do you have a summary of your Claim, in case you were forced into taking it all the way to Tribunal?

If things don’t go the way you want next week, with your SA negotiations and your manager pushes back on giving you the SA you are prepared to accept, it may be worth getting a Barrister to do a merits assessment of your claim to ensure you have a sufficiently strong case. You wouldnt believe the cases that look strong on paper but get the thumbs down based on case law and precedent.

What you don’t want is to burn up a large chunk of cash in the run up to Tribunal and then at the Tribunal Hearing itself, only to find the Award you receive is less than you hoped. Having the merits assessment at least gives you a % likelihood of success and whether it’s worth going to Tribunal.

HashtagTired Sat 21-Oct-17 01:02:12

I’ve been on the other side of such processes.
I think the problem here is that you report to the owner. Not the CEO or other COO etc. Owners are a slightly different and difficult breed of manager. They take thinks more personally than professionally, fiercely loyal and protective of their business,and I’m not overly surprised in his:her response to you raising the EP thing. (Btw, I’m not saying you were wrong to do so). I’ve seen it so many tines before, once loyalty is questioned, the bridge is burned, so to speak.

You have engaged an employment solicitor, so any advice you need on that front will be addressed by them if they are any good.

Given the time you have been in post, I would agree as part of your settlement:
A good reference which forms part of the agreement.
An announcement detail internal, and if appropriate, external too (as part of agreement). This is important if you wish to stay in the same industry.
Make sure they contribute towards solicitor fees (£250-£500 is is typical).

Do you have any particular questions?

PennyPent Mon 23-Oct-17 20:39:45

Thanks everyone. For now I don't have any specific questions about my situation, but that could change! The merit assessment is a good point. My solicitor has said I'd probably need an independent assessor to evaluate if I am doing similar work to my predecessor - which comes at a cost.

For now I'll see how the settlement negotiations pan out. I went back today with my counter offer...I expect his eyes came out on stalks when he read it, although I sent a full breakdown of how I came to the figure (based on numbers that a tribunal would consider relevant).

Anyway, that's today's update.

BettyBaggins Thu 26-Oct-17 19:20:27

Keep us in the loop Penny, good luck!

PennyPent Mon 06-Nov-17 20:04:28

Just an update - had another offer from him today. It's still low for the circumstances, but he has worked it out so that it's broadly the equivalent of 12 months' take home pay (assuming 30,000 tax-free).

I am looking at several thousand pounds to get counsel opinion on the strength of my case, so I haven't instructed on that yet. It will seem like good value if their view is positive, but a poor investment otherwise!

I'm getting to wonder how anyone takes a claim to the ET, it's such a mountain to climb, just to get an employer to behave responsibly...

Anyway, the decision that I'm sleeping on tonight is to go back and say I think we're nearly at an agreement, and put forward another counter offer to get my benefits included as these are worth almost £20k, and to get the company to take on the risk of the £30,000 not being allowed tax-free (it would usually be the employee's risk).

I'm not sure I've got the fight to pursue the moral (and financial) victory, when I could be gone by the end of the year with a decent safety net. It feels like I'm letting womenkind down somehow sad

daisychain01 Mon 06-Nov-17 21:24:10

Why don’t you just accept his offer, it seems very reasonable.

NinahH Mon 06-Nov-17 22:05:43

Wow Penny you're sleeping on a much bigger dilemma than mine! thanks for your help on my thread and lots of good wishes for a good outcome in yours. The past months must have been a difficult and stressful time for you - take care of yourself.

PennyPent Tue 07-Nov-17 10:26:58

I'm not rushing to accept for various reasons, including the considerable pay disparity (over £200k since Summer 2014 when I took over the job), and my 23 years with the company. Neither of these things are reflected in his offer as it stands. We have offered 6 months' pay in the past (he's offering me 7) to employees who have been a real headache. The only headache I've ever caused is raising the issue of equal pay, so another reason it doesn't sit right with me. On my watch the company has increased profits since 2014, and business is booming.

I know it might sound dramatic, but as 23 years of my 25-year working life have been spent there, it's all I've ever known - I have to make sure that if I'm walking away, that I'm properly compensated, as I'm not going to get another chance. I need to feel I have some dignity.

I've decided to go back with my counter offer. Like I said, we're nearly there, so fingers crossed!

VivienneWestwoodsKnickers Tue 07-Nov-17 10:35:44

I thought your employer should pay for legal costs of you getting advice on an offer, as part of the offer process....

LaurieFairyCake Tue 07-Nov-17 10:40:20

So he’s basically paying you only 7 months of your CURRENT salary to avoid paying you the 200k PER YEAR he owes you hmm if you were a man?

Fuck- that is SO fucking awful !!!!

PennyPent Tue 07-Nov-17 11:33:41

The £200k is the difference that has accumulated since Summer 2014. Bad enough, but not as bad as £200k a year!

PennyPent Tue 07-Nov-17 11:39:14

The employer pays for your legal costs in reviewing the settlement agreement - this is to ensure an employee gets professional advice before signing - but it's not open ended. They don't pay for the advice that you get before there's a written Agreement put forward (otherwise they'd be paying to help you get more money out of them as you to and fro, which isn't the point of the legal requirement).

herethereandeverywhere Tue 07-Nov-17 11:44:54

I think that the employer pays the cost of advice on the settlement agreement, not on the strength of a constructive dismissal/discrimination claim Vivienne

Incidentally I've seen way higher contributions to legal costs on settlement than £500, that's an hour of a partner's time at a City firm at best.

daisychain01 Wed 08-Nov-17 02:21:04

We have offered 6 months' pay in the past (he's offering me 7) to employees who have been a real headache

Are you comparing like with like, though. Employers don’t just give payouts to employees who are a “headache”. They mitigate against the cost, time and reputation all damage risk of a claim at Tribunal. In your case, do you have sufficient substantive evidence and solid proof of the disparity in salary levels that you can take to Tribunal if forced.

My comment above is about “a bird in the hand” - accepting a solid offer of “broadly equivalent to 12 months’ take home pay” (which I think you’re saying includes the fact that £30k of it will be a tax free amount if classed as an ex gratis) also takes account that if you were to decline the offer and try to push forward to Tribunal, you’d have a chunk of that swallowed up in legal expenses. Plus your stress, and time away from building your career (as it is emotionally draining). Notwithstanding that the Respondent (your boss) could argue at Tribunal that you were offered a reasonable settlement but here you are standing in front of a Tribunal wanting more.

It’s only my take as I don’t know all your circumstances, but it strikes me you might be better off walking away with what is being offered as “the bird in the hand”.

Tigermoth15 Wed 08-Nov-17 09:14:23

Can I just chime in here too as I have literally just received a settlement agreement payout yesterday afternoon. It was explained to me by the solicitor and barrister acting for me that generally speaking, SA monies are lower than the top potential claim award because one is guaranteed a payout whereas if it goes to court, there are bands of compensation and you may well walk away with a lower band compensation rather than a higher one. I also had to be careful because if it does go to court and the judge sees that you have been made a 'reasonable' offer, they don't like it when people appear to be 'greedy' (not saying you are but apparently ET judges don't like to think that money is a motivating factor) and are very likely to give a lower award accordingly. If your employer has received legal advice then they too will have your potential claim assessed and have an idea of what your potential claim award might be if successful and will tailor the offer to that. Please be sure to get legal advice and good luck because it is a very draining and lengthy process if you have to go down the legal route as I did and I settled out of court rather than have it drag on even longer'

PennyPent Thu 16-Nov-17 12:13:04

Me again.

I've now received the draft Agreement. In the toing and froing it's been agreed that I'll draft the agreed reference for their approval, which is fine and my preference.

They also want me to draft the internal/external announcement about me leaving - this didn't come up in any discussions. My departure is going to cause shockwaves, especially because I'm going so soon, at the end of December (office closes on 22nd) and I'm the most senior person on site. I'm not usually lost for words, but I have NO idea what to say, particularly for the internal announcement. Should I just bat this back to the employer and see what he comes up with? Anyone got a form of words that might work?

Thanks in advance smile

PennyPent Thu 16-Nov-17 18:26:10

Further to this, I have cobbled some words together that I’m happy with. Whether he goes for it is a different matter.

Ttbb Thu 16-Nov-17 18:32:01

Be very careful with employment socilistirs, most of them are pretty stupid and regularly screw things up. It's worth it to fork out more/go to London for a proper employment firm.

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