Bailiffs could be used to enforce tribunal claims

REGULATIONS to enforce the payment of employment tribunal claims could include the use of bailiff-style enforcement officers, Peterborough businesses have been warned.

Phil Cookson, partner, Roythorne Christmas

Phil Cookson, partner, Roythorne Christmas

According to Peterborough-based solicitors Roythorne Christmas, officers could break into company premises and seize goods after just 48 days of non-payment.

The news comes as research undertaken by the Ministry of Justice reveals that up to four out of ten claimants who had been awarded more than £5,000 at an employment tribunal received no payments whatsoever from their employers or ex-employers. In an announcement, justice secretary Jack Straw said that he would be introducing enforcement measures to ensure that claimants received their awards, including the use of high court enforcement officers.

Phil Cookson, employment specialist partner at Roythorne Christmas said: “I think any responsible employer will find the research surprising – to not pay a claim which has been awarded against you is simply not a route sensible employers would take. The research shows however that many are not doing so and it’s a natural conclusion that if the awards are not forthcoming, regulation will be required to enforce payment.  The proposed use of bailiff-style officers to seize goods is a dramatic one which should ensure results.”

Mr Cookson added that the employment tribunals should be the last resort for good employers: “The aim for any employer should be to avoid any disputes and to handle any which do arise in such a manner that they do not escalate. The key to this is to have effective disciplinary and grievance procedures which in many cases will solve problems early on in the process. Now would be a good time for any employer to review their procedures, or they don’t have any in place, to get some drafted.”

The provisions are expected to be in place by the end of the year.