We have also developed practical expertise in handling Settlement Agreements on a large scale, which arise where an Employer has a redundancy/re-organisation exercise, or proposes closure of a factory or office site.

Our Employment solicitors have acted for a broad range of employers, from multinational public listed companies to the very small privately owned business. Our work is in both the private and public sectors and across the spectrum of industries and for local authorities.

We have worked for corporate clients with international and domestic businesses on employment legal issues ranging from the mundane to the most complex.

What we can offer is genuine experience and expertise at a competitive cost. Most importantly we focus on the needs of your business offering a common sense commercial approach to your employment issues.

Our expertise includes
Call us on 0300 303 3570*for an initial telephone consultationor send us an email
  • Large scale redundancy and settlement agreements advisory service
  • Workplace investigations
  • Restructuring and redundancy
  • Advice on terminations
  • TUPE
  • Employment tribunals and litigation
  • Contractual disputes
  • Discrimination and whistleblowing
  • Restrictive covenants and confidentiality
  • Consultancy agreements
  • Disciplinary and appeal investigations and reports
  • Training
  • Handbooks, policies and procedures
  • Due diligence
  • Expatriate contracts
  • Secondment and relocation
  • Multiple Settlement Agreements

We work with other experienced lawyers and other professionals on such matters as tax, pensions, corporate, commercial, matrimonial, crime, property, litigation and personal injury. We have many experienced and trusted contacts in other areas such as outplacement, HR consultancy, recruitment, PR, financial advice, banking, accountancy, enquiry agents and forensic support.

Averta Employment Lawyers LLP is an equal opportunities employer.

Large scale redundancy and settlement agreements

In recent years, Averta Employment Lawyers have gained significant expertise in advising large groups of employee and worker clients in relation to settlement agreements.

Our advisory service to employees and workers applies in redundancy or restructuring situations, where contracts are being changed or where there is a dispute affecting a large part of a workforce.

We are often recommended by other law firms, or by employers’ human resources teams and although we take a collaborative approach to these exercises, our primary responsibility is to each individual who becomes a client of Averta.

Web-based advice – Quick and Convenient

As COVID-19 restrictions have prevented us from meeting clients face to face we have developed a new approach to advising employees, which has significant advantages for dealing with large groups.

The process allows us to provide legal advice quickly and efficiently to large groups of clients in a way that is advantageous for both clients and employers:

Clients – receive clear, timely advice from highly experienced independent employment solicitors, who prioritise confidentiality and tailor advice according to clients needs.

Employers – the process is extremely efficient and helps them to manage large numbers of settlement agreements, effectively, without compromising on the quality or independence of our advice.

Our process – How it works
Our process encompasses client engagement, advice, and completion – efficiently and accurately. This is a brief outline:

Web-based ID verification
Using web-based ID verification, document sharing, webinar presentations and electronic signatures we can advise clients remotely whilst maintaining security. The interests of clients and confidentiality are built into every stage of the process.

Identification of clients is now a requirement of the anti-money laundering regulations and solicitors’ rules. Previously a time-consuming process, this has now been streamlined and we use online ID verification as part of our client engagement process. In most cases, this process means we can comply with the requirements in just a few seconds.

Tailored Webinars
Our advice is given both in writing and via webinar presentations tailored to clients’ needs. These webinars have proved to be highly effective. They are easily accessible for all clients on PCs, tablets, or mobile devices. Clients can ask any questions they may have, openly or anonymously, via live Q&A which takes place during the webinar and afterwards.

Our process is fully compliant with relevant legislation concerning settlement agreements, including s.203 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Workplace investigations

If concerns are raised in the workplace about serious policy breaches or inappropriate personal behaviour such as bullying, harassment and discrimination, it is crucial that employers conduct thorough investigations.

An investigation will ensure that employees feel heard and are assured that appropriate action is being taken, while also fulfilling the employers’ duty of care to all personnel. In addition, the investigation process may yield valuable learning points for employers.

In some cases, less complex investigations can be carried out internally by Human Resources departments or well-trained personnel. However, when the allegations are more serious or sensitive in nature, it is often best to engage an external workplace investigator.

Why choose an external investigator?

  • An internal investigation may not be perceived as impartial. Employees may feel more secure and comfortable discussing matters openly with an external party.
  • Investigations can often be time-consuming and disruptive. In addition, many organisations, especially smaller ones, lack the time, expertise, or resources to conduct thorough investigations.
  • When allegations involve a senior employee, it may not be appropriate to investigate internally, and it may be prudent to engage an external investigator.
  • External investigators seek to ensure that an investigation is carried out with procedural fairness.

How we can help:

  • Carrying out a full investigation into concerns raised.
  • Providing investigation support for organisations that may undertake investigations internally. This could include assisting in planning or in an overflow capacity (e.g., assisting in a component of the investigation like the carrying out of witness interviews).
  • Providing guidance on investigative steps.

Investigation Process:

  1. Terms of Reference. Initially we will gather instructions from the instructing party to ensure we have a clear understanding of their requirements (Terms of Reference). This will include what the investigation is required to examine, a provisional time frame, who the findings should be reported to, and who to contact for further direction if unexpected issues arise.
  2. Investigation Plan. We will draft a plan for the investigation which will include what documents need to be reviewed, what evidence might need to be gathered and how to obtain it, and who might need to be interviewed.
  3. Gathering Evidence and Interviews. We will look to gather evidence that may support or refute the allegations and interview relevant persons. Interviews are conducted in a fair and neutral manner to gather information and understand different perspectives.
  4. Investigation Report. Following the investigation, we will prepare a report which will detail the investigation process and the findings linked to any supporting evidence.

Common issues

Following a recent merger you have been told that you are redundant. You have been offered a significant redundancy payment. Here are some questions you may be considering:

How has my redundancy payment been calculated?

Am I entitled to more?

Is my company dealing with the redundancy properly?

What happens next?

Often, particularly with senior staff, companies choose not to follow standard redundancy procedures. Instead, they offer to ‘enhance’ the basic redundancy entitlement either to a group of employees, in a large scale redundancy/restructuring situation, or on an ad hoc basis for an individual.
The question of whether the redundancy offer is a good one can be involved, taking into account your benefits such as salary, bonus, car, insurance, share options, pension and tax issues along with your prospects of finding alternative work and the circumstances of the redundancy.
We can analyse the contractual position and any potential claims you might have against your employer and help you to negotiate with the company or negotiate directly on your behalf to maximise the value of your redundancy payment.

Contract termination guidance for senior executives

You have given notice to leave the company. Your bonus, which is due, has not been paid. Your manager says that payment is discretionary but your colleagues have all been paid. You may be considering the following:

Can my boss withhold my bonus if I leave the company?
What happens to my share options if I leave?

Bonus arrangements are often described as discretionary but once targets are agreed and an employee achieves those targets then the bonus will often become contractual and enforceable. The fact that colleagues have received bonus payments strengthens your position because when an employer exercises discretion in such circumstances, it must do so fairly between employees.

However, there may be bonus payment conditions, such as a requirement that you are still in employment on the date the bonus becomes payable or that you not serving notice.

Share option rights are usually set out in specific agreements. Rights will vary but you may lose options once notice has been given particularly where options have not vested. You should take advice before you give notice.

You have been headhunted to work for a competitor. There are several pages in your service agreement concerned with restrictions on working for your competitors, dealing with customers and offering jobs to members of your old team. You may be considering the following:

Can I work for a competitor and take my team and clients?
I have received a threatening letter from my company’s solicitors. Where does this leave me?

Could I end up in court if I work for a competitor?
Many employee service agreements contain these restrictive covenants. Courts will not enforce them unless they are reasonable and no wider than necessary to protect against unfair competition. Courts will scrutinise them very carefully because they have the effect of restricting individual rights to work freely within the labour market. However, it can be a mistake to treat them too lightly. The issues can be very complicated.

Court proceedings can also be risky and very expensive. For these reasons it is relatively rare for cases to get to court but, where they do, the stakes can be high, balancing the livelihood of an individual against the protection of a company’s business. It is vital that you take legal advice as soon as you think that your activities might conflict with the restrictions.

It is worth taking advice on restrictive covenants at the time you enter into the service agreement. Unfortunately, many people do not but it is usually easier to negotiate less restrictive terms at the start of the employment relationship than when you are thinking of leaving and working for a competitor.

You have been employed by the same company for over twenty years, working your way upwards to a senior position on the management team. You believe you have dedicated your ‘best working years’ to the company and are shocked to have just been called to a meeting by the newly appointed managing director and told that your role is at risk of redundancy. The company is looking to restructure and rebrand itself as part of the process. You are concerned that the new MD perceives you as ‘old school’ and that your age will count against you.You are concerned that if your employment is terminated in the next six months, you will miss out on a potentially valuable Long Term Incentive Plan (LTIP).

What can I do to reduce the risk of redundancy selection or enhance my position?

We would investigate to see if this was a genuine redundancy or just an excuse to get you out. Whilst redundancy is a potentially fair reason for terminating a person’s employment, it might be possible to challenge the grounds for your redundancy selection and it can be helpful to scrutinise the selection process to identify any suggestion of procedural unfairness.

We can help you prepare for the consultation and selection process and help you to establish whether you have been subject to discrimination on the basis of age. In the event you are selected for redundancy, we could help you challenge the decision if it is unfair and negotiate a favourable severance package. The LTIP has not yet vested and depending on the terms of the scheme, it is possible that you will lose your entitlement to LTIP benefit when your employment terminates. This is a point which we would take into account in conducting negotiations.

You are a senior executive and the only female member of the management team. You have two young children and manage both a demanding work and home life. A less experienced male counterpart has been awarded a bonus under the terms of the company’s performance related discretionary bonus scheme, on the strength of new work wins which he has brought into the business through extensive networking. Your family commitments mean that you have only very limited opportunities to attend marketing events, you feel very aggrieved as you have not received a bonus for a couple of years and feel that you have been overlooked, is there anything you can do?

We would need to look firstly at the terms on which you are engaged and the terms of the bonus scheme. It appears that the company has exercised its discretion to pay bonus to your colleague and it has a duty to exercise that discretion fairly in relation to your bonus. It may be that the basis on which performance is assessed is discriminatory. If  issues of discrimination in the workplace cannot be resolved informally it may be that you will need to commence a formal grievance process.

You have been with the company for more than a year. When you joined the company you brought several large customers. You have just been given a service agreement to sign. However, it contains some clauses which would restrict you from taking customers with you if you left the company.

Do you have to sign?

You should have received an employment service agreement when you joined the company. Despite this, there may be references to these restrictions in your offer letter or other documentation. You may be entitled to refuse to sign the agreement, but it may also be reasonable for the company to have some protection depending on the nature of the business. We could advise you on this and help you negotiate appropriate restrictions.

You are a salaried partner in a professional practice. Twelve months ago you agreed to a temporary reduction in salary to alleviate the practice’s cash flow pressures in a difficult economic market. At the point of agreeing to the reduction, you agreed verbally to review the situation at six monthly intervals, this has not taken place and you have now been told that a further decision will not take place until the anniversary of the pay reduction.

You may be considering the following question:

Is my temporary salary reduction agreement binding and can I rely on this as grounds to argue that I should be released from my contract and the onerous restrictive covenants which it contains?

We need to establish exactly the basis and circumstances in which you agreed to the variation of your contractual terms, whether it has been documented in any way and how the relationship between you and the partnership has been affected by this decision. The enforceability or otherwise of the restrictive covenants may be open to challenge and this is likely to depend on how reasonable it is for the company to have a level of protection; what the industry ‘norm’ is in respect of restrictions and your level of seniority.