In February 2013 we posted an article on the proposed changes to the legislation governing settlement negotiations and agreements and the consultation issued by ACAS on its draft code of practice. A response to this consultation has now been published by ACAS which includes as part of it, a revised draft code. A full copy of this can be found here.
A number of changes have been made to the draft code of practice. These include:
– Settlement offers no longer need to be in writing as prescribed in the original draft code. The revised code provides that initial offers may be made orally with a requirement for only the final settlement agreement to be in writing.
– The template letters included as part of the original draft code have now been removed and instead will appear in the non-statutory guidance accompanying the final code.
– The recommended minimum period for consideration of a settlement offer has been increased from seven to ten calendar days. This however is not a mandatory period and parties can agree on another reasonable period as necessary in the circumstances.
– A recommendation has been included in the revised code which provides that, as a matter of good practice, employees should be allowed to be accompanied at settlement agreement discussions by a work colleague or trade union representative.
– The list of improper behaviours as set out in the original draft code has been extended (but remains non-exhaustive).
The revised code is currently awaiting parliamentary approval but indications are that the new provisions on settlement agreements and accompanying code of practice will be brought into effect later this summer.
For more information, please contact a member of Devonshires’ Employment team.