03/11/2013 - Half of Employment Tribunal awards not paid

Over half of those awarded compensation at an Employment Tribunal (ET) never receive payment in full according to a new government-commissioned study.

The Payment of Tribunal Awards 2013 investigation, which was carried out by IFF Research, found that one of the most common reasons – affecting a third of cases – workers do not receive payment was because employers simply refuse to pay up!

As many as a third of claimants who had been awarded compensation did not receive a penny, and 16% were paid only part of the money they were owed.

If an employer refuses to make a payment, claimants can file a case with the county court for an initial fee of £40, or pay £60 to have the High Court Enforcement Officer act on their behalf. Only claimants on low incomes can seek a break on these fees.

A big part of the problem is that 59% of claimants are not aware they can pursue enforcement if their employer refuses to pay up. Only 28% of those who did not use enforcement were aware they had the option to do so.

Solidarity Trade Union has welcomed promises from Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson to make changes to ensure employers convicted of wrongdoing at an ET are forced to compensate their workers.

Some of the proposals put forth were to give judges the power to demand a deposit from businesses they think may not pay up, the introduction of penalties for late payment, the naming and shaming of employers who fail to pay out, and reviewing how compensation can be paid to claimants if the company they worked for has since ceased trading (due to insolvency, for example).

As many as 37% of the victims of non-payment reported that the company responsible no longer existed. It is currently possible to receive elements of compensation from the Redundancy Payments Service in such circumstances, but Solidarity believes more needs to be done to ensure the full amount of money owed to workers is delivered to them.