Executive and board-level employment law advice
Our team of solicitors and HR professionals has extensive experience in handling board-level employment law matters. Involving some of the most senior people in business, these cases often require a high degree of sensitivity and confidentiality, which we are well-equipped to provide.
All of our specialists are recognised for their responsive, commercially-driven advice and can support both strategic and day-to-day business. We will help you to confidently navigate senior board appointments, terminations and succession planning.
We have a high rate of satisfaction with clients and C-suite executives retain us as trusted advisors. Our expert support extends to all aspects of executive employment relationships.
Why use us?
Our highly experienced employment solicitors and HR professionals have excellent technical skills and commercial awareness. We never simply describe the law or tell you what it does and does not permit. Instead, we tailor our solutions to your unique situation and help you to overcome challenges in the most effective way.
We always take a practical approach to our work, adapting to your own ways of working to achieve a solution that best meets the needs of your organisation.
What do we offer?
Your own dedicated employment law expert.
Telephone, email and face-to-face support as and when required at an agreed retainer fee.
Advice on dealing with executives, which includes but is not limited to:
Contracts and service agreements.
Disputes, terminations and departures.
Post-employment restraints and business protection.
Legal and regulatory matters in executive remuneration and directors' duties.
Executive and board-level directors
To fully benefit from our executive and board-level employment law advice, it’s important to understand how different directors might have different roles within and relationships with your business. This will help you to decide the kind of support you need as well as cultivate your awareness of necessary processes.
Executive directors are usually company employees. They have contractual obligations to assist in running the company day-to-day. Non-executive directors are more likely to be self-employed and usually advise on policies and strategies, provide independent oversight and constructively challenge the executive directors. Non-executive directors will usually assume greater importance in special situations such as takeovers, management buy-outs and other transactions between the company and some or all of its directors. They aren’t usually involved in the daily management of the business.
Directors are office-holders who owe statutory and common law duties to their company. However, businesses are increasingly using the title of director for other employees who are not board members and do not carry out executive functions. In many cases, this has blurred the lines and can cause uncertainty about the individual's rights and obligations.
If you have any doubts about the status, rights and obligations of your workforce, book a consultation with our experts. We can advise you on the status of individuals and how to ensure you manage both executive and non-executive appointments correctly.
Removing an executive
If you remove an executive from your business you have to consider several more things that do not affect other employees.
Directors can usually be removed by an ordinary resolution of the members at a meeting. There may also be other ways to remove a director that will be described in the company's articles of association. As well as removing a director from office, you may also wish to end their employment. Removing a director and terminating their employment are two separate matters that must be dealt with separately.
Because director's salaries and benefits tend to be greater and more complex than other employees, ending their employment can be more complex and there is scope to incur more significant liabilities, including a substantial claim for unfair or wrongful dismissal, if their departure is not handled correctly. Apart from a potential award or settlement, a claim will also incur management time, legal costs and take focus away from other more productive activities.
If you are considering removing a senior executive from your business, or have already done so and subsequently received a claim, our expert team can help you. No matter what stage the legal proceedings are at, we have experienced solicitors who can provide expert advice and assistance.
Employment contracts and service agreements
Executive directors should be employed under a comprehensive service agreement that clearly describes their terms and conditions, benefits, and obligations as a director. A standard template for a regular employee is usually not appropriate. Similarly, non-executive directors should have a letter of appointment detailing their status, rights and obligations.
Whether you’re appointing a new director or changing an existing service agreement, our expert executive and board-level employment law advice can ensure that your agreements are fit for purpose and offer your business the clarity and protection that it needs.
Post-termination restrictions for senior executives
Executives typically have access to your business's more sensitive information, knowledge and relationships. It is therefore important to ensure that they are contractually prohibited from using the company's confidential information and business connections in a way that could harm your business, both during their employment and after they leave.
Drafting effective and enforceable restrictive covenants requires careful analysis of the interests that your business can and should protect. Restrictions that are too broad, vague or long are unlikely to be enforceable.
Common restrictions prevent an executive from:
competing with your company
using or disclosing confidential information
poaching their colleague to join another business
soliciting or dealing with your clients and customers
using your intellectual property
interrupting your supply chain
harming the reputation of your business
Post-employment restraints should always be specific for the legitimate interests that the business needs to protect. Applying the same restrictions to all executives could adversely affect your ability to enforce them. They should be drafted to reflect the nature of the employee's role and the risk that they pose to your business.
Restrictive covenants are not the only way to protect your business from unfair competition. You may also wish to prevent the executive from using their skills, knowledge and connections for some time by placing them on garden leave during their notice period. Your service agreements must provide for this and should describe the terms and conditions that will apply during that period.
Disputes between senior executives, or between executives and shareholders, can be extremely damaging for business. There are many reasons that disputes arise, but they are often caused by disagreements over the direction and development of the business or fractious personal relationships.
Disputes can also involve shareholders. A comprehensive shareholder agreement can anticipate and provide a mechanism to deal with many of the problems that are most likely to arise, ensuring that they can be resolved efficiently and to your satisfaction.
When dealing with disputes amongst senior executives, we can help you to assess your options and devise a strategy that will fulfil your objectives and minimise the damage that it could cause to your business.
Access legal advice and employment solutions today
To understand more about how our experts can help you, book a consultation or give us a call today. Our solicitors and HR professionals have the technical expertise, pragmatism and commercial awareness to be able to help you solve your difficulties with your executive.