The Coalition really don’t like employees taking action against their bosses, do they? Not content with introducing a £250 fee to take out an Employment Tribunal case, the Government is set to abolish the questionnaire where bosses are currently obliged to give details of their policies.
Now I learn the business secretary Vince Cable is planning to reduce compensation payments to people who actually win their tribunal case.
This triple whammy amounts to a serious attack on workers rights. First, there is little evidence to suggest that employees take unfounded cases to the tribunal. The small minority that do hardly justifies penalising the vast majority who have a genuine case to take forward, regardless of whether they win or not.
Secondly, the questionnaire has proven invaluable to staff taking out discrimination cases. Discrimination – on grounds of race, gender, age or sexuality – is very difficult to prove but we all know that it is pretty widespread and everyone who suffers from it deserves an opportunity to seek justice. The questionnaire has helped many workers prove their case based on the answers given by their bosses. Now it is being removed in Vince’s Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill because it is unnecessary bureaucracy, apparently.
Both these measures will act as a significant deterrent to workers who have suffered a genuine injustice and may have suffered greatly at the hands of terrible employers.
On top of that reducing compensation payments to those who actually win their tribunal cases , payments which in most cases are pretty low anyway, send out all the wrong signals to workers across Britain and suggests that politicians would rather they suffer in silence or just leave quietly only for their bosses to inflict bad behaviour on their successors.
Instead of restricting opportunities for wronged workers to challenge bullying and discrimination, justice ministers should be tackling the growing scandal of the blacklisting of employers in the construction and other industries, and legislate to prevent businesses snooping into peoples’ private lives on Facebook to inform their decisions over who to hire and promote.
We hear a lot about building a stronger economy and a fairer society. Protecting workers rights does not damage the economy but eroding those rights certainly makes us a less fair society.
By Lester Holloway @brolezholloway