Nick Hobden, in the employment team was instructed by a family agricultural business in the managed exit of one of its senior employees who was also a shareholder.
The company was well established in the sector of vegetable and cereals production and had been running as a family business for over 50 years. The board mainly consisted of members of one generation of the family. The employee was a member of the family and had been working for the company for 30 years, he sat on the board.
Relationships between the employee and another family member broke down, following the introduction of non-family directors brought in to manage the business in light of its expansion. The employee struggled with the introduction of external employees and relationships with him became fractious. He refused to accept the role and authority of other employees in the business and the subsequent changes to his role as the business grew.
At the time the company instructed the firm it had already removed the employee as a director and was endeavouring to solve the problem in a variety of ways, including using mediation. Nick Hobden used his knowledge of the agriculture and food industries to understand the changing nature of the employee’s role. As it was a family business, matters had to be handled extremely sensitively, particularly as there were already significant disagreements in the family and some negative feelings. Nick guided the HR Manager of the company in having a “protected conversation” with the employee. A key factor in this matter was to tactfully separate the employee’s separate legal position as employee from his position as a shareholder, even though these were emotionally entangled. Nick assisted the company in successfully resolving the matter and ensuring the family relationship was not damaged.