Most would lie to win a tribunal pay-out


The credibility of Britain’s controversial employment tribunals has taken a further dent with the finding that the vast majority of people would lie to a tribunal in a bid to win a big payout.

A survey by employment law firm Peninsula found that almost nine out of ten people (85 per cent) said that they would be prepared to lie if it meant winning a case against their employer.

Moreover, a similar proportion (87 per cent) said the main reason for them initiating a claim would be the prospect of a big payout.

Almost nine out of ten (88 per cent) of those surveyed would consider making a tribunal claim if they felt aggrieved at work, a huge rise on the 34 per cent who said the same in 1995.

Peter Done, managing director of Peninsula, said that this dramatic change of sentiment suggested that employees were now more aware of their rights but that employers should also do more to stop cases ever reaching a tribunal.

"If there was a more open culture within organisations, then problems may be nipped in the bud at the time, as opposed to developing into court cases and costly, time-consuming tribunal procedures," he added.

The findings will provide further ammunition for aggrieved employers who believe that the system is slanted in favour of employees – whether they have a legitimate grievance or not.

Last year tribunals dealt with 98,000 claims based on work disputes. Unhappy staff are now able to use up to 26 employment acts and 80 types of complaint against employers and the number of cases taken to tribunals doubled between 1993 and 2000.

The number of unjustified or 'speculative' tribunal cases is also rocketing. Figures from the Engineering Employers’ Federation suggest that more than a quarter of claims against employers (some 27 per cent) are withdrawn by the applicant for no financial or other return before reaching a hearing.

Earlier this year, a survey by the Federation of Small Businesses found that four out of ten small business owners believe that the tribunal system is now "very unsatisfactory", with a quarter believing that the process treats employers unfairly.

Employers are particularly aggrieved that costs are hardly ever awarded against employees who loose their cases – a mere seven per cent of cases won by firms resulted in costs being awarded against employees.