Page last updated at 16:10 GMT, Friday, 26 March 2010

Employment tribunals strengthened by new powers

Bailiff outside a property
Employers may now face a visit from enforcement officers

People who win awards against their former employers at employment tribunals have been given new powers to get their money.

From next month they can use High Court enforcement officers to do the job.

They will be available to chase employers who may have sacked staff unfairly or discriminated against them.

The Ministry of Justice said the new powers were needed because a large minority of employers do not pay up after losing a tribunal hearing.

"Research published by the Ministry of Justice in May 2009 showed 39% of people granted awards by tribunals had not been paid and only 53% were paid in full," the MoJ said.

Name and shame

The new procedure is called the Employment Tribunal Fast Track scheme and starts on 6 April.

The enforcement officers are the High Court equivalent of County Court bailiffs.

Employing them will cost just the normal £50 court fee, while the usual enforcement officer fee of £70.50 charged in the event on non-recovery will be waived.

Payment of the court fee will trigger action by the officers, which can include seizure of any assets of the employer to cover the money owed.

Since April 2009, the MoJ has been putting the names of defaulting employers on a public register to name and shame them and make sure they pay up.

There are now more than 570 people and companies on it.

"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," said Justice Minister Bridget Prentice.

"The Fast Track will ensure all recipients can pursue their awards with ease."



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