Tribunal wins count for nothing as employers fail to pay up

Winning
an employment tribunal and being awarded compensation proves to be a hollow
victory for many workers when their employer fails to pay up, says the Citizens
Advice Bureau (CAB) problem-solving charity.

Evidence
from the UK’s
CAB network suggests that non-payment of employment tribunal awards by
employers is widespread and could be on the increase.

In
a report Empty Justice, CAB points out that many awards are simply not paid
because employment tribunals in England
and Wales
have no power to enforce them.

In
2003-04, 13,000 employment tribunal claims were successful, many involving
unfair dismissal and unpaid wages. But where an employer fails to pay up, the
claimant then has to go to court – a costly and time-consuming process.

CAB
director of policy Teresa Perchard
said: "We are very concerned that non-payment of awards by employers is
widespread and that, all too often, a favourable tribunal ruling proves to be a
meaningless victory.

"At
a time when the Government is actively seeking to have most of all kinds of
disputes resolved fully out of court, it is nonsensical that people have to go
to court not just once but twice, simply to get the result they are entitled to
and without any real help along the way."

She
called on the Government to act to improve the system and make sure that
successful claimants are not denied justice.

The
charity believes that provision for a mechanism to better enforce awards should
be included in the Courts and Tribunals Bill being brought forward next year.
The state could pay the award to the claimant, and then itself pursue the
employer, for example.

Perchard added: "If tribunal
rulings cannot be enforced easily, this undermines the effectiveness of the
system and public confidence in it."

By Mike Berry

 

 

 

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