From the TUC

Workers’ rights to compensation under threat from all sides

01 Feb 2012, By

Workers are facing an onslaught by the government on their ability to claim compensation. There are three proposals to strip us of our rights being considered at the moment.

While chief executives seem to manage to get huge sums of compensation when they are sacked or resign after screwing up, us lesser mortals have only been able to look on with envy. However when we are sacked unfairly we have at least been able to rely on our unions and, as a last resort, an Employment Tribunal. The government wants to either stop that or make it more expensive. As well as changing the time you have to have been working for your employer to be able to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal from one year to two years they plan to charge us for the pleasure of seeking any form of justice.  Applicants will be obliged to pay the costs of an unfair dismissal claim which will only be refunded if the employee wins.

The government is proposing to charge £200 to lodge a claim and £1000 for a  hearing, They have given another option of an upfront fee of £500 to access the Tribunal that can rise to £1750 if the employee is claiming more than £30,000 in compensation. The fees will be even higher if a worker believed they were sacked because of their sex, race, disability, age, sexual orientation or religion and belief.

At the same time they are trying to prevent us claiming compensation if we are injured or made ill through work caused by the employers’ negligence.

Under proposals going through Parliament at the moment, union members will be among the millions who are deprived of the ability to claim compensation, or who will lose damages.  As many as 25% of injury claims will not be brought.  Those that proceed might lose up to 25% of damages for the success fee and further substantial reductions for required legal expense insurance.

Many people will no longer be able to obtain representation, particularly for low value/complex cases. However although a claim of £3,000 or £4,000 may be considered to be low value by the Government, it is not low value to a cleaner who earns £6 an hour and represents four months wages.

Finally they are proposing to slash the payments that you can get under the criminal injuries compensation scheme. These payments are certainly not huge – often around a thousand pounds, but they can go to shop workers or security staff who are assaulted. Tube workers who have had to cope with the trauma of a suicide jumping in front of their train have also benefited.

That is now to change. In a consultation document issued this week the Government says it wants to remove around 17,000 victims of violence crime every year from the scheme including those with injuries like a smashed hand or an injury to the knee that is serious enough to require surgery.  In addition many of those who still qualify will find the compensation cut, so even people with minor brain damage face a cut in their payments.

It is not a coincidence that all these proposals are coming together. The government has been wound up about a non-existent compensation culture by insurance companies who are happy to take insurance premiums but have taken a series of court cases to try to stop them paying out when things go wrong, including several aimed at asbestos victims. The coalition government is also hell-bent of removing as many employment rights as it can, so expect more to come.

3 Responses to Workers’ rights to compensation under threat from all sides

  1. sheila
    Feb 6th 2012, 10:31 am

    It seems the government is concerned by the number of claims being made to the employment Tribunals – hence the proposal to charge fees. What the Government should be looking into is why there are so many claims in the first place. Maybe there should be compulsory training for employers on employment legislation & health and safety.

  2. Chris Ingram
    Feb 6th 2012, 11:00 am

    It is clear from Thatcher’s government, and has been for the last 2 years of Cameron’s regime, that the Tory dogma of running the country on the basis of the boarding school ethics of “do what I say, or you’ll get a good thrashing”; is specifically aimed at working people.

    Their aim is to create a low wage economy, with minimum employment rights, minimum health & safety at work protection, a minimum number of Trade Unions with massive legislation controlling their activites, and an economy based on profits before everything.

    Further this government’s first actions has been to follow what can only be described as one of Nazi philosophy as it attacks the disabled, unemployed, trade unions, mentally ill, and the elderly.

    All actions of Hitler.

    Indeed, they have also ensured control of the media, in particular the BBC, to an extent that DR Goebbels would be proud of!

    Tragically, as a result, the public are sleep walking into a country which will, by 2015, be easilly mistaken for the United Kingdom of America!

    Tory policy is to mimick the worst of US government policies in an attempt to ensure capitalism, without control or conscience, runs this country.

    Health & Safety in particular is a target because it is seen as a magnifying glass which exposes the callous and dismissive attitude of the employer to the workforce.

  3. p.k.
    Feb 20th 2012, 12:02 pm

    not only do employees have no more rights.unions officials are siding with management in order to destroy an employees legitimate grievance in order to stop/prevent cases reaching tribunals.