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Wielding Without Prejudice

Dec 11, 2023
A photo of a boss and an employee having a discussion in an office

There’s a HR buzzword several clients have brought up in conversation recently.

It’s one we are very familiar with, having used it thousands of times in our work.

But what’s been clear in chats we’ve had with clients is that it’s a hugely misunderstood term, and – left to their own devices – that misunderstanding could spell tribunal.

The term in question?

“Without prejudice”



What does "Without Prejudice" mean?

It’s a common legal term and here is how ACAS defines it:

“A common law principle which prevents statements, whether written or oral, which are made in a genuine attempt to settle an 'existing dispute', from being put before an employment tribunal or other court as evidence in legal proceedings between those parties about that dispute.”

 So far, so good, but here’s the problem...

Based on our conversations, plenty of people see “without prejudice” as an opportunity to say whatever you want and nudge someone out of the door without following proper employment law process.

One particular client had decided they were going to take a staff member to the pub, have a “without prejudice” conversation, give them a month’s money and send them on their merry way.

It doesn’t work like that.



What should you do?

Before you start wielding without prejudice, here are three things to remember:

  • There needs to be an existing dispute – you can’t just use it to try and move people on.
  • There needs to be a settlement offer in place – you need to have genuinely attempted to settle the dispute
  • Just because you said it, it doesn’t mean it is “without prejudice” – as ACAS says, it’s a legal term, and it’s got a legal framework around it; you can’t just arbitrarily make something without prejudice.

The long and short of it?  If you want to let someone go, or you want to have a conversation with them about options, you need to start by talking to someone who knows what they’re talking about, get some advice and don’t take action until you do.



Want to talk it through?

We help clients all over the UK with their HR.

Give us a call on 01980 622167 or email us at [email protected] and we’ll have a free chat about your situation.

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Whether you’ve got a specific HR query, you need your HR foundations in place, or you’re looking to build on those foundations and create a team that can function without you, we’d love to talk about how we can help you make it happen.

Give us a call on 01980 622167, or click below to book a call.

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