19 May 2009
Tough new measures to improve the payment of employment tribunal awards and reduce the costs of enforcing unpaid ones were announced today by Justice Secretary Jack Straw.
The measures mean High Court Enforcement Officers will take on recovery of awards granted by employment tribunals or in out-of-court settlements. It comes after research published today by the Ministry of Justice showed that 39% of people granted awards have not been paid, and only 53% have been paid in full.
The measures back up a public information drive including new leaflets that make the enforcement process clearer for claimants and a new extended telephone enquiries line for more comprehensive information on how and where people can enforce their award.
The information campaign and helpline helps address concerns raised during research by 43% of respondents who felt the court led enforcement process was either ‘too much hassle’, ‘too expensive’ or ‘too time-consuming.’
Justice Secretary Jack Straw said:
‘I am determined to ensure that employees awarded settlements following a dispute get their dues paid.
‘Our research shows as many as four employers out of ten are not paying up leaving individuals with money owed to them, which is completely unacceptable, especially if they have lost their job.
‘That is why we have introduced these new measures to ensure that people get what they are owed, and remind those not willing to pay of the consequences of their actions.’
Gareth Thomas, Minister for Consumer Affairs said:
‘The recession should be no excuse to deny people their employment rights. This is an issue of fairness. If a person has been granted an award through an employment tribunal, they should get that payment in full. I know that good employers do pay up in these circumstances, but we must get tough with those that don't.
‘The provision of enforcement officers and the new helpline provides real help to people and protects businesses that play by the rules.’
Citizens Advice Chief Executive David Harker said:
‘We warmly welcome both the publication of this research, which confirms the conclusions of our October 2008 report, Justice denied, and the government’s proposed improvements to the enforcement of unpaid awards, which will help protect vulnerable workers and support good employers.’
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
‘We welcome the measures that the government are taking to improve the enforcement of employment tribunal awards. Individuals who win employment tribunals claims should be guaranteed payment of any awards.
‘Last year the TUC’s Commission on Vulnerable Employment highlighted huge volumes of workers who had been exploited by their employers and who had won employment tribunals, but were not receiving the financial compensation they were entitled to.
‘Rogue employers should no longer be able to avoid punishment for mistreating their staff.’
Other figures in the report Research into enforcement of employment tribunal awards in England and Wales, carried out by an independent body (IFF Research Ltd) show:
The findings in the research sample show that in relation to the overall value of the award:
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