In the rush to get away, or more positively in the rush to join a new company, it is easy to overlook a few issues that can make a big difference to your legal and financial position.
Consider the following:
1. Agree a reference
Your reputation is your lifeblood, so agree what your old employer will say about you. Employers are not obliged to give a reference, but if they do it must be honest and fair. Ideally agree with them a short reference that will confirm the position you were employed in and the period of your employment. You might not feel you need a reference for your next job, but you never know when you might need one in the future. It will also gag them from saying anything derogatory.
2. Carefully check final salary payments
Have you been paid to your last working day, without deductions, including full reimbursement of all your expenses? It will be extremely difficult to claim this after you have left.
3. Untaken holiday entitlement
Have you any unused holiday entitlement? If so, and you are paid for this in lieu of taking the time off, you may be entitled to a tax rebate. Most contracts say that employees have no right to be paid for unused holiday allowances, but the vast majority of companies will nevertheless pay this. Because you have no contractual right to this payment it will be tax-free! However, you will need to reclaim this tax from the Inland Revenue. It will probably fund a holiday!
4. Restraint clauses
Many companies try to get departing employees to sign non-competition clauses when they go. You are NOT required to sign these unless, as is highly unlikely to be the case, it is originally provided for in your contract. If your old employer wants you to extend your responsibilities after you have left, then you should add this to the matters you will negotiate over.
5. Transfer your pension
If you have been a member of an employer pension plan then make sure you complete all administration to transfer these benefits to a new plan or ensure you keep trustees up to date with your whereabouts. Millions of pounds of unclaimed pension entitlements are not paid to former employees simply because the trustees don't know where they are.
6. Check your pension very carefully
Your pension fund will probably be the greatest savings fund you will own. Have this reviewed to ensure the correct amount is transferred to your new pension plan. Errors occur, even unintentional ones.
7. Get your P45
Make sure your old employer gives you a P45. This will mean your new employer uses the right tax code for you from day one. This can save you a lot of hassle and make your tax affairs simpler to handle.
8. Check your tax affairs
You may be entitled to a tax rebate. Tax under PAYE is charged on the assumption you work for all 12 months of the tax year. If you take a few months break during the year then you may be entitled to a tax rebate. This often goes unclaimed. The later you stop working in the tax year, the greater your tax rebate is likely to be.
9. Check health insurance
There may be a break between leaving an old employer and being entitled to join a new employer's policy. If this is important to you then consider taking short-term cover independently.
10. Return all property belonging to employer
Including, of course, all confidential and business-sensitive information.
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