Acas launches consultation on settlement agreements code of practice

Acas has today launched a consultation on a new code of practice for settlement agreements.

Settlement agreements are legally binding contracts that can be used to end an employment relationship on agreed terms.

The Government is set to introduce legislation that will mean any discussions regarding settlement agreements cannot be used in unfair dismissal claims unless the employer or employee have engaged in some “improper behaviour”.

The proposed Acas code of conduct will come into effect alongside new legislative provision to help people understand how it will work in practice. The code will also explain what constitutes “improper behaviour”.

Acas council chair Ed Sweeney said: “This draft code draws on our knowledge, expertise and experience in helping to resolve thousands of workplace disputes every year.

“We hope it provides employers and employees with clear, straightforward guidance on how the new provisions on settlement agreements will work. We are very keen to hear what the public think of the draft code.”

Bar Huberman, XpertHR employment law editor, said: “When finalised, the code of practice will be an important document, because it will be admissible in tribunal proceedings, for example in determining whether or not an employer’s offer of settlement should remain confidential.

“While the draft code of practice provides an idea of the detail that will apply to settlement agreements, there is still much to be decided. Acas asks for feedback on some important aspects of the code, for example whether or not employers should give employees a minimum period of time to consider offers of settlement. Further, Acas is yet to publish the non-statutory guidance on the code, which will provide further advice on the use of settlement agreements.”

For further details, see XpertHR’s coverage of the consultation.

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