'Blackmail' fears soar for rec firms

The recent Supreme Court reversal on Employment Tribunal fees has sparked fears that ‘blackmail’ claims against recruitment agencies could be set to make a comeback.

The Association of Recruitment Consultancies (ARC) worries that now employees, and potential employees, no longer have to pay up to £1,200 for employment tribunals, spurious claims can be made against recruitment firms in the hope of a pay-out.

These fears stem from 2011 and 2012 when a number of individuals sent out false CVs to recruitment firms containing made-up names alongside an untrue sexual and racial identity.

Adrian Marlow, Chairman of the ARC, explains that in these instances, where an erroneous discrimination claim was made against an agency, it was often easier for the agency to pay-out to the sender of the false CV than fight the case.

He wrote: “It was and remains – were it not for the [employment tribunal] fees charge – all too easy for disgruntled employees to make spurious claims.

“’The blackmail effect’ is that it is cheaper for the party against whom the allegations are made to pay out, rather than to fight the case, so rewarding a litigant [the person who made the false claim] whose case has no merit.

“During my meetings with the Justice Minister he clearly understood this, but unfortunately the need to fund the employment tribunal took higher priority.”

Furthermore, Marlowe notes that in 90% of settled cases, an employer is paying out regardless, leaving the blackmail effect intact. ARC argue that when the Supreme Court met to reverse the decision, comments in the adjudication effectively reveal that the Court were aware that false claims, against agencies and employers, do exist.

ARC claim that to deter un-meritious claims, an early sifting process needs to happen. In Matthew Taylor’s recent review of modern working practise there was further recognition to address the status of claims to help decide whether they were false or not.

ARC has written to the Ministry of Justice in the hope of having their proposals on employment tribunal fees heard.

Marlow added: “Now the Supreme Court has reviewed the fees issue, this a good opportunity for the government to look at this area again with a view to build in efficiencies. As Brexit approaches, the opportunities to improve effectiveness and reduce waste, time and cost must be grasped as we all work to help the UK to become the best place for work and do business in.“

Have you been affected by a candidate’s or employee’s false claims? Get in contact or tell us in the comments….

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