Wednesday, 2 October 2013

James, 18, is owed £98 wages. He can't afford justice & won't get his money

When James was doing his A levels, he got himself a part-time job in a fast-food outlet you will have heard of.

He's now left his job and home, and has gone to University.

Unfortunately, his ex-boss still owes him £98.

So James sent a polite email.  That didn't work.
He went in to have a quiet word.  That didn't work either.
His Dad advised him to ring ACAS.  James then found out that the law was not able to help him.

For a Tribunal claim for unpaid wages there is an issue fee (paid at the start of the claim) of £160

Later, there is a hearing fee (paid at part way through the case) of £230.

James does not have £390 to get his £98.

Luckily, James does have a Nan.  And yes, she has written a letter. Fingers crossed.

There is also the option of the small claims court. But how do they work for unpaid wages? Assuming the claim is below the small claims limit (now £10,000), and that the claim is submitted online, the issue fee is between £25 and £210 and the hearing fee is between £25 and £325. There might also be an allocation fee of £40. The precise fee depends on how much you are claiming.

If you win at a small claims court, great. But what if James ex-boss refuses the order to pay? James would then have to pay the court £100 to begin enforcement action.  Then he'd get his £98.

There's no reply yet to the letter from Nan.

Realistically, it's James last and only hope.

The introduction of fees into our Tribunal system is robbing people of justice.....and hardly anybody knows about it because our media do not discuss "employment rights".  People might not care about "employment rights"...but they care about fairness...they care about being paid what they are owed. So of course, people do care about employment rights....

So what does the future hold for James?

I wish him better luck with his next employer.  Unfortunately, he must wait until he's been in the job for two years until he has employment rights. During that time, he will not be allowed to bring any claims before a Tribunal, unless it is regarding discrimination.  This assumes the best - that there is a standard contract of employment, not a zero-hour or Agency type.

If he is unfairly dismissed after 23 months in the job, he will have nothing he can do about it.

If he is sacked after two years or more, he will need to find over £1260 to get his case to a hearing.

Three years from now, he will also owe £27,000 in course fees.  But then, that change was brought in at beginning of this term of parliament....and we're all supposed to have forgotten about that now, are we not?

Middle and low wage individuals are being systematically priced out of justice.  The only people who can get justice now (without having to stump up large fees) are Trade Union members.