Barnet Council workers receive payout after landmark legal victory

More than 150 Barnet Council workers will finally receive a share of hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation, more than 12 months after UNISON won a landmark Employment Tribunal decision.

Last year the union successfully argued that Barnet Council failed to provide it with information on agency workers, as part of a wider consultation in 2012. The Tribunal decision upheld the requirement for employers to provide information on agency workers being engaged during TUPE transfers and collective redundancy consultation. It made protective awards of 60 days and compensation of 40 and 50 days’ pay in respect of a redundancy exercise and two TUPE transfers.

Yet, despite Barnet Council admitting it had not fulfilled the requirements of s 188 and TUPE in relation to agency worker information, it appealed to the Employment Appeals Tribunal over the level of compensation to be paid and how this was calculated. The Council was successful in an element of their appeal in relation to the calculation of compensation. The matter was sent back to the Employment Tribunal for reconsideration in relation to the amount to be paid in compensation.

However, UNISON has now negotiated a settlement with the council that allows affected employees to be paid compensation without the need to re-litigate the matter in the Tribunal. 

UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said:

“Barnet Council dragged its heels and delayed payment to these workers by appealing the case. At last we have some good news and the affected workers will now be paid their compensation which is both long awaited and well deserved.

The Council breached the law and undermined the union’s ability to carry out its role, and this decision should serve as a warning to other councils that they must provide information on agency staff to trade unions or suffer the consequences.

“With councils across the country outsourcing and slashing services on a massive scale, this is a landmark decision that will help to protect the rights of workers. It has important ramifications for other trade unions and will help them to negotiate more effectively and avoid redundancies.”

John Burgess, Barnet UNISON Branch Secretary, said:

“UNISON reps repeatedly warned the Council about their responsibilities to provide the agency data at a time when staff are at risk of redundancy and outsourcing.

“This case has dragged on for almost two years but I am glad we have finally reached a settlement on behalf of our members. It highlights the financial and reputational risks of failing to meaningfully consult with trade union reps that were simply carrying out their trade union duties on behalf of members.”

Notes to Editors

In February 2013, the Employment Tribunal in Watford ruled that the council was in breach of changes to s 188 and regulation 13 of TUPE brought in by the Agency Workers’ Regulations, by failing to provide UNISON with the information on the number of agency workers employed by Barnet Council. 

The Employment Tribunal found:

1. That the Respondent (Barnet Council) failed to comply with s 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 in respect of redundancies that took effect on 31 March 2012 by failing to provide information on agency workers;

2. The Respondent failed to comply with r 13 of TUPE 2006 in respect of transfers on 1 April and 1 May 2012 by failing to provide information on agency workers; and

3. The Tribunal has made protective awards of 60 days and compensation of 40 and 50 days respectively in respect of these breaches.