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Posted 11 November 2013
by Martin Laver

Enforcing Employment Tribunal awards

Recent research by BIS indicates that winning (or losing) in the Employment Tribunal is only half the battle.  More than half of all tribunal awards go unpaid.  The government is stepping in to try to increase the prospect of tribunal awards actually being paid.

Enforcement options already exist for successful applicants and Employment Tribunal awards can be registered in a similar way to county court judgments.  Enforcement options such as bailiffs, charging orders and winding up petitions are then available.  Nearly a quarter of all successful applicants use this process to get paid. 

Under considering are proposals to:

  • require employers to pay a sum of money to the tribunal in advance of a hearing if there are grounds to indicate the employer pay not pay an award.  Payment of the sum to the tribunal would be a precondition of defending the claim.
  • penalties for late payment.
  • tribunal staff providing clearer information to applicants on how to enforce tribunal awards.
  • advertising details of those employers who fail to pay awards.
  • improving the payments which can be made to successful applicants where the employer becomes insolvent before an award is paid.

Of these proposals, the requirement that an employer pay a sum of money to the tribunal is likely to be the most significant for both employers and employees.   Employers who are struggling (and so might fall within the definition of those unlikely to pay an award) might not be able to afford to make the payment to the tribunal and so may be prevented from defending a case which they might have successfully defended.  A subsequent tribunal award could tip the business over the edge into insolvency.

Watch this space.  These proposals are unlikely to become law until at least April next year.

For advice and assistance, contact our employment team on 01392 207020 or employment@tozers.co.uk

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About the author

Martin Laver

Partner

Partner in the commercial litigation team specialising in disputed trusts and Wills