Working Theory

by Michael Reed


I do employment law for the Free Representation Unit.


michael at


Dear Michael...

12 February 2013

Dear Mr Reed

Your employment

We are writing to inform you that we have concerns about your recent performance. You have not kept up with recent rapid developments in employment law and your advice to volunteers has become increasingly erratic.

We will be inviting you to a meeting in the near future so that we can discuss our concerns in full with you. You will have the right to bring a work colleague or a trade union official with you to this meeting. You will then be given opportunity to improve your performance to meet the required standard before we reach any final decision as to your future employment.

Alternatively, you may wish to consider the following offer to leave on agreed terms.

You would receive a lump sum payment free of tax of £5,000.

Your employment would end on 28th February.

You would receive a reference to reflect your work during your employment with us.

This offer is open for you to accept until 5pm on Friday 22nd February. If you wish to accept, then we would ask you to enter an agreement in full and final settlement. You will need to seek legal advice on the terms of this agreement and we would pay a further sum of £400 towards your independent legal advice. All sums are payable on signing the agreement.

You are under no obligation to accept this offer. If you do not wish to accept it, then we will contact you again to arrange a meeting to discuss our concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Karen Mackay, Chief Executive

Thankfully, I have not got the letter above. If I had, I would be convinced that my time with FRU was over. What, I would think, is the point of meeting to discuss my performance, if things have gone as far as this?

It is, of course, the ‘Draft letter to send to employees offering a voluntary severance package on grounds of unsatisfactory performance’ from the Acas Consultation on Settlement Agreements Code of Practice – with appropriate personalisation.

If you think employers should be able to make such offers on a without prejudice basis I’d invite you to carry out a similar exercise. Put one of the draft letters on your organisation’s letterhead and personalise it to yourself. Then try to imagine how you’d feel if you received it.

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