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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 46146
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have been off work months and diagnosed with depression,

Customer Question

I have been off work for 4 months and diagnosed with depression, the depression is due to Work Related Stress and bad management of my duel role as a teacher and a teaching assistant. I have been offered a Settlement agreement at work (school academy) I think the figure is too low and unacceptable, it is for 3 months pay tax free. I have worked for the school for 21 years. I am also aggrieved that I seemed to be backed into a corner. I made the suggestion that I did not see I would be back to work quickly and the school HR suggested that a settlement agreement was an option. I said I was prepared to look at it as an option but now I am being told I agreed to a settlement. I feel I was misled into taking this root without knowledge of other avenues (if any)
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. can you tell me have your employee got anything in writhing that you agreed to this or were there any witnesses to this conversation please.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I had a union representative with me (unison), who I feel is more on the side of the school than myself. She has notes from the meeting (I have not seen) which I believe suggest that I agreed to a settlement, (I think this is what she wanted for me and so that is what she saw) but I believe I agreed to look at a settlement figure and did not agree I would accept. As I stated earlier I felt that the conversation mislead me into thinking that a settlement agreement was a bit like getting a pension forecast and that you got to look at it before you agreed to accept. I seem to have incurred a lot of anger once I suggested I would like to see a solicitor before signing. ACAS has been involved in the drawing up of the contract. The ACAS consolidator was quite pleasant about it but the school and indeed the Union rep was not. The sum of 3 months wages does not in my opinion compensate me for the loss of my job, and the amount of stress that was put on me.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and will get back to you as soon as possible. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience delays.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks for your patience. For a settlement agreement to be legally binding, certain criteria must be met. Most importantly the employee must have received independent legal advice in relation to waiving their employment rights under it. This means that you must have taken independent legal advice from a solicitor, who advised you on your rights under the agreement and the consequences of signing it. If no such advice was received, then the agreement would not be legally binding and your employer cannot force it on you.
If ACAS were involved in the negotiations, that could make it a legally binding agreement but only if they were officially involved in resolving a formal claim between you and the employer. If they were just helping out without any official claim being pursued then it is unlikely that their help would have resulted in a binding agreement. In any event, the argument about receiving formal legal advice would be the strongest one and it is what you should use in the circumstances.
I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 46146
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your answer, no I have not had any legal advice before this meeting on my right only a consultation with a unison rep, who seems to want to push me in the same direction as the school. ACAS conciliator suggested his role is 'only' to draw up the agreement paperwork. I am paid as an unqualified part time teacher by the school as my qualification is a Cert Ed in adult education and the rest of my hours are made up as a teaching assistant. The school have been very poor at supporting me as a teacher. Missed performance management reviews where I could voice my concerns and difficulties with my role, No training for the role that I was expected to fulfil ( a loose title of Core Support) to support extra low ability students with their English and Maths, mainly Maths I have NO background in these subjects as my own training is in ICT
. I would like this to go away and would happily except a payment of say six months salary, which, with careful living will last me for a year nearer to my state retirement age. I just passed 60 a few days ago. I will happily give you your 5 stars for the comfort of having someone to converse with on a Sunday when the subject is eating me up. Rona
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the rating. In the circumstances it is highly unlikely the agreement is binding, so you cannot be forced to accept it. You could go back to the employer and try to negotiate a better settlement if necessary although they cannot be forced to offer that, just as you cannot be forced to accept what is currently on the table

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