I’m on maternity leave and I’ve not been treated fairly. How do I negotiate a Settlement Agreement?

We introduced this subject in an earlier article, so if you’d like to get some additional information, please click here.

It happens far too frequently that women are treated unfairly whilst on maternity leave. This article looks to provide an overview on how to negotiate a Settlement Agreement, and assumes that you have already decided that this is the best route to take. So what’s next?

Number 1 – Take advice from someone experienced in dealing with Settlement Agreements

It sounds obvious, but you don’t want to get it wrong. This is your one chance to exit from your current employment with a package. You need, therefore, firstly to be sure that your rights have been infringed. You also need to know what you can push for, such that your employer will hopefully concede, and to get things dealt with quickly. For example, you’ll want to ensure you don’t have to repay any enhanced maternity pay you’ve received to date.

Number 2 – Do not underestimate the adverse emotional and financial impact your employer’s decisions can have

Again, this may sound obvious, but sometimes ‘getting out’ is all you can focus on and getting help from an experienced adviser will mean someone else is doing the thinking for you. Remember, your livelihood, emotional wellbeing, not to mention your career, can all be negatively affected in these circumstances. Tackling this sort of stress whilst you’re on maternity leave is not easy. So make sure you get the help and support from friends and family that you need. And make sure you get the best advice you can get from a solicitor who specialises in Settlement Agreements.

Number 3 – Remember that employers do not relish being found out to have discriminated against a new mother

It looks bad to customers, to their remaining staff, and to anyone else they deal with. Employers are often keen to settle before it gets to tribunal, so ensuring your claim is fully documented will significantly increase your chances of agreeing a favourable departure.

Tips for negotiating a beneficial Settlement Agreement

  • Keep all documentary evidence, including notes, emails, phone messages etc.
  • Check your employer’s grievance procedure and follow it carefully.
  • Discuss the impact the discrimination is having on you openly with your adviser. It may enable you to claim for more compensation.
  • Understand that sometimes a successful outcome may be a compromise. But it is still better than just leaving your job.
  • Remember it’s not all about the money. A pay out sum is clearly the thrust of it, but there are other points to be negotiated too, e.g. a reference, continued use of a company car etc.
  • Once both parties have signed the Settlement Agreement… that’s it. There’s no going back and neither party can pursue any claims.
  • By presenting your employer with a Settlement Agreement you are taking control of the situation. They may well be glad about this and be keen to come to an agreement quickly, too.

If you’d like to understand more about what you can do about your situation and need advice on presenting a Settlement Agreement to your employer, please do give us a call on 0800 304 7255. It’s what we do every working day!


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