Tribunal orders council to compensate workers offered cash to sign away rights

Bromley Council has been ordered to pay more than £64,000 in compensation to 18 of its staff, after an employment tribunal ruled it had offered employees cash incentives to sign new contracts that took them out of existing collective bargaining agreements.

The Tribunal found that Bromley Council had written a series of letters to staff, with one letter offering £200 to workers if they signed new contracts of employment. The series of letters asked employees to agree to a localised pay award which replaced national and regional collective agreements.

UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said:

“The decision is a significant victory for our members at Bromley Council who were effectively coerced into signing away their employment rights. It should send a strong signal to other local authorities that they cannot simply withdraw from collective bargaining by going behind the union’s back and making these types of offers.”

The case was brought by 18 UNISON members who did not sign the new contract, some of whom were ultimately dismissed and re-engaged on new terms of employment that included localised pay negotiations. The members are now set to receive £3,600 each.  

Employers are prohibited from making offers to union members that have the purpose of changing their contracts so that their terms and conditions of employment are no longer determined by collective agreement.

The Employment Tribunal judgment is available here