The Ministry of Justice is implementing a new Employment Tribunal Fast Track Scheme in an attempt to clamp down on the huge four out of ten rogue employers that fail to pay staff awards.
Research published by the MoJ last year indicated that some 39% of people granted awards by tribunals had not been paid and a mere 53% were paid in full. The details of more than 570 companies and individuals that have failed to make payments are now being held on a register, however.
The database, which was started in April last year, can be searched by both credit reference firms and members of the public. It holds information about defaulters that have court judgements, criminal fines and now tribunal awards issued against them.
Justice Minister Bridget Prentice 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.”
The fast track initiative was created following lobbying by charity Citizens Advice and will come into force on 6 April. It means that if employers fail to honour payment of awards ordered by the tribunal, personnel can apply to High Court Enforcement Officers, who will complete court processes on their behalf and commence enforcement activity as soon as possible.
Staff will pay a £50 court fee to have a writ issued against their employer in order to seize assets to the value of any payment they are due. The figure is then added to the debt owed by their employer. The previous £70.50 fee, normally levied on employees if the money cannot be recovered, will now be waived.
Richard Dunstan, social policy officer for Citizens Advice, said: “We warmly welcome this measure, which we hope will give the Employment Tribunal system the teeth it needs to ensure that rogue employers actually pay the awards made against them. All too often at present, a successful claim to the tribunal proves to be a hollow victory.”