We all know that some things just don’t work out. Employment relationships are no different.

So, what happens then?

Sometimes, there needs to be an agreed exit. This may be where you feel you have been badly treated or where your employer, for whatever reason, wants to remove you from your post quickly and with minimum disruption. Either party can make the first move and suggest an exit package be agreed.

Any discussions about an agreed exit are usually ‘without prejudice’. This means the discussion is private and shouldn’t get raised in any future court or tribunal. This enables both sides to talk freely about the problems and find a way forward.

As these exit discussions are usually private, if you have a concern about how you have been treated at work (and / or fear no exit will be agreed) you should also raise a formal grievance in accordance with your organisation’s Grievance Policy.

So, you’ve had an offer or you think you want to make one. What should you be thinking about?

– Take time to think about what you want. You should expect to have at least ten days to consider any offer. Don’t be rushed into this.

– Take legal advice from an experienced employment lawyer so you know the strength and value of any likely claim you may have.

– Consider what other leverage you have. Do you have something your boss needs like: personal ownership of any intellectual property rights; a project that needs completing; or an important connection with a client? Offering to co-operate on these may help the negotiation and get a better result.

– Find your employment contract. This will tell you what notice you are entitled to. As a basic rule it’s one week for each full year of service but you could be entitled to more.

– Check your holiday entitlement. Are you going to be owed some holiday or are you going to owe some holiday? Are any other monies or benefits owed?

– Consider the tax implications of any exit payment. Take advice if necessary.

– Be aware of any post termination restrictions you have. Many employment contracts will place restrictions on what you can do after your employment ends. Do you need to be released from those as part of the deal?

– Finally, plan any agreed announcement and reference into the deal and don’t tell anyone about this (other than very close family) while you are negotiating.

Once terms are agreed, your employer is likely to want you to sign a Settlement Agreement. As this involves you surrendering your rights to make future claims, you need this counter signed by a relevant independent adviser – a definition that includes qualified lawyers. These are extremely important documents. Proceed carefully. Take proper specialist advice. Your employer should pay a contribution to your legal fees in this regard to reduce the cost to you.

Chris Morse is a Chartered Legal Executive in our employment team in Truro. To discuss the content in this article or any other HR issue call 01872 265100 or email employment@stephens-scown.co.uk.