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Employment tribunals don't payout, report reveals

14 October 2008

More than 1,000 workers each year fail to receive money awarded to them by employment tribunals, with the catering sector one of the main offenders, a report has revealed.

The Justice Denied report, from Citizens Advice, showed up to one in 10 successful claimants do not receive their cash.

It said that the average number of successful employment tribunal claims over the past four years was 14,713. Yet Citizens Advice saw roughly 1,000 cases related to unpaid awards each year.

Allowing for cases dealt with elsewhere, the report suggested that the total number of awards that went unpaid each year was as high as 1,500.

The majority of the individuals denied their monetary awards were employed in low-paid, low-skilled jobs, according to Citizens Advice. As well as catering, the retail, cleaning, construction and care sectors were particularly bad at paying up, it said.

To try to enforce an unpaid award, claimants must enter a complex and costly legal action in the civil courts. Many give up the struggle through frustration, anxiety or mounting expense, according to the report.

The charity is calling for state-led enforcement of employment tribunal awards, which it claims would cost the Government less than £500,000 per year.

Citizens Advice chief executive David Harker said: "The ability of rogue employers to ignore tribunal judgments with impunity seriously undermines the credibility of the employment tribunal system with both workers and employers.

"The current system is grossly unfair, both to those claimants who don't receive the compensation due to them, and to the vast majority of employers who play by the rules and pay the awards made against them."

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By Daniel Thomas

E-mail your comments to Daniel Thomas here.

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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