29 August 2006
A company called the Research and Report Bureau are offering £50 to people who have a current claim registered with an employment tribunal. In return, individuals have to provide their contact details, the contact details of their employer, the type of claim they are bringing and the case reference number, provided the case has not yet been heard. Although the company say that they do not pass the details on to anyone else there is concern that employers may be being contacted with offers to help them win the case.
We've originally heard about the offer from a Benefits and Work member who came across this site
advertised on Sky.
Our member contacted them with the necessary details and did indeed receive a cheque for £50 and a tribunal service booklet.
But alarm bells rang when we visited the site. There are no contact details other than an 0845 number and there are no details about the company, the individuals who are carrying out the research, who they're doing the research for or why they don't actually need to interview employees. In addition, we couldn't find any reference anywhere on else the web to the company.
When we phoned the number on the site it seemed to be answered in the name of another company and they would only tell us that they were collecting information on behalf of the Research and Report Bureau and that they then contact the Employment Tribunal service. They insisted that they did not pass on the claimant's details to anyone else.
We then phoned the Employment Tribunal service who told us that they don't give out information to third parties but will send out a copy of the judgement once the case has actually been heard. They are aware of the company but don't know what they actually do and are not assisting them with any research.
Our member did a search at Companies House which revealed that Research and Report Bureau was registered as a company in February of this year from an address in Lancashire. There are two directors, one of whom has three other company appointments and the other who has six.
Until a couple of years ago it used to be possible for people to consult a register of cases (held at an office in Norwich) that were awaiting a hearing. The result was that both sides would get large amounts of mail from companies of varying integrity offering to help them win their hearing in return for a fat fee. There were plans to publish the register on the internet until Benefits and Work led a campaign to prevent that happening. The result was that the register was closed altogether.
It seems possible that companies who previously relied on that register to drum up business may now be prepared to pay for details of employers facing a tribunal. Once they have the details they can write to the company pointing out the huge amount of potential compensation that can be awarded in, for example, discrimination cases and explaining their own track record in beating employees at tribunals and even getting costs awarded against them. (We've seen many such letters in these offices).
We don't know if this is what the Research and Report Bureau are doing, but we'd be very interested to hear from anyone who may have more information.