Employers will face pressure to pay employment tribunal awards more quickly after 6 April, when a new government scheme comes into effect.
The Employment Tribunal Fast Track scheme will simplify and speed up the process for successful tribunal applicants by enabling them to use an extended service from the High Court Enforcement Officers, who will complete the court processes for them if the employer fails to pay the award ordered.
The only cost for the claimant is the £50 court fee needed to issue the writ needed to seize assets, which will be added to the amount owed by the employer.
The fast track was created following discussions with Citizens Advice, which has lobbied for a cost-free process to help employees. The scheme is the latest of a series of policies designed to help employment tribunal applicants, created because of the high number of employers failing to pay. Research published by the Ministry of Justice last year showed 39% of people granted awards by tribunals had not been paid and only 53% were paid in full.
Audrey Williams, head of discrimination at law firm Eversheds, said: “Since last year, defaulting employers have started to be named and shamed on a searchable database.
“[This] announcement represents a further step aimed at ensuring tribunal awards are paid or paid more promptly. Employers will need to respond more quickly to tribunal decisions if they are to avoid increasing the amount payable through charges and interest.”
She added: “Non-payment of an award can itself constitute an act of discrimination,” potentially resulting in additional compensation claims.
Justice minister Bridget Prentice, who introduced the scheme, said: “The government is determined to ensure people are not denied access to justice by a small minority of unscrupulous individuals or companies who refuse to respect the award. The fast track will ensure all recipients can pursue their awards with ease.”
Richard Dunstan, social policy officer at Citizens Advice, welcomed the measure and added he hoped it will “give the employment tribunal system the teeth it needs to ensure that rogue employers actually pay the awards made against them”.