A third of claimants who win their case at an employment tribunal never see any of the money awarded to them
Thousands of employees who’ve won their claim at an employment tribunal, have not yet seen the money they were awarded in compensation.
The UK government maintains that the problem is being looked into and that employers not willing to pay are being forced to do so. However, new data shows that all attempts by the government to make firms ‘pay up’ are so far not working and many claimants are left not knowing where to turn to for help.
The Guardian spoke to Grahame Healiss, aged 27, who was sacked from his call centre job in Liverpool after reporting that his girlfriend was being sexually harassed by one of the team leaders.
The case went before a tribunal, the couple won and they were awarded damages of £40,000 but eight months later, still no payment. Before the final hearing, the company they worked for, M&R Marketing, went into liquidation and thus avoided their liability, a common ploy used by many companies which needs to be addressed by the government.
According to a spokesperson for the government’s Insolvency Service, there are thousands of cases like this one happening every week across the UK but it’s very difficult to prove that the companies involved are going out of business on purpose, just to avoid paying out money awarded.
Government data revealed that over one third of winning claimants never receive any of their awarded compensation and less than half receive payment in full.
“Too many employees who win cases don’t get the money they’re owed. The government must take tough action on employers who refuse to pay up,” said Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary.
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The council pleads guilty to two out of four charges over health and safety failings amongst workers
Thanet District Council has admitted at Canterbury Crown Court this week, that they failed to adhere to health and safety regulations over ‘white finger’ syndrome. The council pleaded guilty to two of four charges which involved a number of offences dating as far back as 2005 and up to 2014.
The court hearing has now been postponed until November, whilst the Health and Safety Executive decide whether to accept the council’s plea, or push for a trial relating to the other two charges.
The court heard that all charges were associated with workers at the Dane Park Depot, around 40 in total and are connected to their use of lawnmowers and grave digging equipment, plus other specialist machinery.
The council admitted to the charge of breaching the ‘Control of Vibration at Work Regulations’, meaning the council failed to reduce the amount of exposure to vibration for their employees.
‘Vibration white finger’ (VWF), also called ‘hand-arm vibration syndrome’ (HAVS), or ‘dead finger’, is a secondary form of the industrial injury known as ‘Raynaud’s syndrome’, which can be triggered through continual use of hand-held vibrating machinery and equipment.
Prosecutor, Mr Richard Beyne stated that since 2005 and up until 2014 when a report was made, some of the workers were diagnosed with ‘white finger’, or some form of the syndrome.
Mr Beyne added: “This was a systematic failure by the council to protect the interests of their workers during that period. Nothing was done in relation to training or risk assessment.”
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Unison says employment tribunal will be looking at some of the worst ever pay rule breaches
In what is being described as the biggest ever legal claim in the sector, seventeen care workers are taking their ex-employees to an employment tribunal, after alleging that the company they worked for failed to pay them the minimum wage.
On payslips, it seems to show that some of the staff in Haringey, north London, who worked for the contractor, Sevacare, were only being paid a rate of £3.27 per hour, which was, at the time, less than half the minimum wage.
Their union, Unison, says that an employment tribunal will be looking at some of the worst ever pay rule breaches they have ever come across.
However, Sevacare says they do pay above the minimum wage but some of the workers feel that hours the company deemed as off-duty, should also be counted.
Sevacare, who no longer have a contract with Haringey, have a number of contracts with other local authorities throughout the UK and provide support and care to around 9,600 people every week.
The seventeen workers involved in this case, one man and sixteen women, were Sevacare employees, who cared for people in the Haringey borough for a period of six years, right up to this year.
The workers union, Unison, stated that a rate of £3.27 was the pay given to a number of women whose job required them to act as ‘live-in’ care workers, however, the national minimum wage at the time was £6.70 per hour.
According to Unison, the women were basically on duty 24 hours a day, caring for people in their homes and tending to their every need but Sevacare dispute these claims.
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A number of cases have recently found employers guilty of ‘discrimination arising from disability’
What is disability discrimination?
According to Section 15 of the Equality Act 2010 – it is unlawful for an employer to treat one of their employees in a disparaging way because of something happening as a consequence of their disability, when the employer knows, or should be expected to know about the disability of that employee.
The employer may be able to successfully defend a claim, as long as they can justify the unfavourable treatment, on the grounds that it is a suitable way of gaining a legitimate aim.
Employers have been found guilty of ‘discrimination arising from disability’, under the Equality Act 2010, in a number of recent disability discrimination cases.
According to the Liverpool Echo, an NHS worker was sacked from her position after her secret double life as a porn star was made public. The NHS were ordered to pay compensation to the admin worker.
Three of the most recent cases resulted in large tribunal awards due to discrimination arising from disability.
In the first case, Nally V Freshfield Care Ltd, the employment tribunal awarded a total of £8,514 – £6,760 for injury to feelings and £1,754 for loss of salary. After being dismissed following behaviour which arose from disability, the employment tribunal found that he was discriminated against by his former employer when they dismissed him because of his erratic behaviour, which stemmed from his disability.
The second case, Pnaiser v NHS England and another, compensation was awarded by the employment tribunal, after an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), which found against Ms Pnaiser’s former and prospective employers.
The employers were made to pay £6,600 for injury to feelings, £2,000 in aggravated damages and £1,700 for loss of enhanced benefits and tribunal fees by the employment tribunal.
In case number three, Thomas v Twinmar Ltd, the employment tribunal awarded a total of £7,990 for discrimination arising from disability – £4,990 for loss of earnings and £3,000 for injury to feelings. The employer was found to have committed discrimination arising from disability by the employment tribunal, for dismissing an employee from their job after taking time off work for a couple of weeks, after suffering from a number of diabetic seizures.
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