Does a Settlement Agreement Need to be Witnessed?
No, a settlement agreement does not need to be witnessed for legal reasons. As soon as both employee and employer sign the document, it will become legally binding, as long as you have received the advice of a settlement agreement solicitor. There are also other procedures to follow to ensure your settlement agreement is legal and valid before you sign.
Before you sign your settlement agreement, you must be 100% happy with what you agree to, and just because it doesn't need to be witnessed, you may also need legal advice in order to understand all of the legal elements and terms and conditions outlined in the settlement agreement.
When Should I Sign my Settlement Agreement?
Before you even think about signing your Settlement Agreement, it is essential to make sure you have read every detail and ensure everything is stated as expected.
Are the details accurate to any conversations you have had with your employer or HR department since your notice was given? The Settlement Agreement should clearly specify the amount of any compensation or redundancy pay you're due to receive and the details of any restrictive covenants you agree to adhere to.
What Makes a Settlement Agreement Legally Binding?
Just because the settlement agreement doesn't need to be witnessed, it doesn't mean that it isn't legally binding to both you and your employer. You do, however need to make sure you have taken advice from a qualified settlement agreement solicitor before signing in order to make the document legally binding.
Without following these other practices, you may also find your settlement agreement is, in fact, not legally binding:
- The settlement agreement needs to be documented in writing.
- The settlement agreement must relate to a particular proceeding(s) or complaint(s).
- The settlement agreement must be signed by the employee and the employer (electric signatures are valid).
- The employee must have received independent legal advice, either from a qualified solicitor or an authorised union representative.
- The legal adviser must be properly insured.
- The legal adviser must be identified in the settlement agreement.
- The settlement agreement must state that the requirements regulating the settlement agreement have been satisfied.
There should be a reasonable time limit given for both parties to consider the details in the settlement agreement. The ACAS code of practice on settlement agreements states there should be at least ten calendar days given to review and consider the terms of the proposed settlement agreement.
What else do I need to consider?
It's worth noting that both the employer and the employee are never obliged to sign the settlement agreement if they are not happy with the suggested terms.
But once a settlement agreement has been signed, the employee will, at that point, waiver their right to bring a future claim against the employer, and all figures will be final. This is why if negotiations over the settlement agreement are entered into, it must be done before both parties have signed and the settlement agreement becomes legally binding.
Reaching a settlement can be a tricky process, and every case of employment termination will be individual. Finding a settlement agreement solicitor you can trust is essential to making the whole job termination process run as smoothly and painlessly as possible.
Settlement Agreements of Swindon are qualified, experienced employment solicitors who are properly insured and are here to help get you the best deal possible with your exit package.
Talk to us today if you need help and advice in negotiating the terms of your settlement agreement. We are here to offer the very best guidance.