You may be invited to have a protected conversation with your headteacher if you have an on-going dispute with your school and are thinking about leaving. It is also possible to have a protected conversation even where there is no dispute. Essentially, the conservation is an ‘off-the-record’ discussion about terminating your employment contract on agreed terms.
What is discussed during the conversation should not be used as evidence in unfair dismissal proceedings before employment tribunals. The protected conversation will essentially allow the school to make a financial offer to you, bringing your employment to an end, whilst also taking assurance from yourself that you will not bring any claims relating to your investigation or grievance.
If you are invited to attend a protected conversation we recommend you contact us as soon as possible for advice.
What is the history of protected conversations?
The “protected conversation” policy was introduced under s.111A of the Employment Rights Act in July 2013.
Previously, under the “without prejudice” rule, it was necessary to show a dispute (meaning the existence of, or the implied threat of, legal proceedings) before a conversation could be protected in this way.
What are the benefits of a protected conversation?
The benefit of the conversation is that it is subject to privilege, meaning the discussion or anything relating to the discussion will not impact any ongoing investigations. The benefits of entering into a protected conversation include:
- The discussion and offer being completely confidential and unable to be considered during any further grievance investigation
- The ability to end this process or reject settlement at any point prior to signing any agreement
- Settlement will end your employment and resolve any personal distress you are experiencing associated with it
What can be the negatives?
The negatives associated with this can be, for example, if you have raised a grievance, it will likely end and you will settle any potential claims you may have wished to bring, for example, unfair dismissal.
Should I be accompanied during a protected conversation?
Yes, if you are an Edapt subscriber you can contact us to be accompanied during a protected conversation. We will be able to guide you through the process.
What happens after the conversation takes place?
If you decide to leave the school, the terms of departure will be recorded in a settlement agreement which is a legally binding contract. More information about settlement agreements can be found here.
It should be noted, you are not obliged to enter into a settlement agreement and there is often a period of negotiation between parties before an agreement is reached.
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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.