Has Your Employer Done This Before? How Violation Tracker UK Can Help Workers Seeking Redress for Labour Law Violations

December 8, 2023

In 2015, a cleaner working for British multinational retailer B&M was dismissed after raising discrimination concerns. In one incident a line manager had told her to clean the toilets, which was not in her usual list of duties. After she had cleaned them, he went in and urinated over the floor.

By that point she had already written to the then-CEO of the company, Simon Arora, feeling that Polish workers were being discriminated against. She did not receive a reply. When she was dismissed a few months later, one of the reasons given was that she had ‘annoyed’ the centre manager and was ‘obstructive’. B&M lost the subsequent employment tribunal.

Is this an isolated case or indicative of more systemic workplace abuse? One way to find out is to consult Violation Tracker UK, which contains data on employment law violations in multiple areas, whether that be discrimination, non-payment of minimum wage or safety failings.

The free database shows that the B&M case cited above is just one of a series of regulatory problems faced by the company.

Image shows what's inside Violation Tracker UK

In 2021, B&M settled another case of discrimination, this time an employee with a learning disability who was allegedly subjected to harassment and abuse whilst in a stock filling role at the firm. B&M was required as part of the settlement to liaise with the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland in reviewing its practices and procedures.

The following year it was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after an electrician suffered burns to 15% of his body during a poorly planned repair job.

In yet another failing, B&M was earlier this year inspected by Ofsted who rated its apprenticeship programme as inadequate. Inspectors found that almost all apprentices that had started the programme had left after being ‘ill-advised and unsupported’.

What a search of B&M on Violation Tracker UK uncovers is evidence that the company has been accused of breaking employment law and its duties of care in multiple areas: discrimination against and unfair dismissal of an employee, failure to keep workers safe at work, and failure to provide an adequate apprenticeship programme.

These problems together suggest that there may be systemic issues for B&M workers providing not only evidence of aggravating factors for individual claims, but also offering a rare and well-evidenced insight into conditions for workers on the ground.

If you or someone you are assisting has a grievance with an employer, Violation Tracker UK is a good place to start your research, whether it be looking into past employment tribunals where claimants have won their case or where the employer has faced enforcement action from regulators.

Wider searches by industry can also give an insight into regulatory breaches in the sector; here you can see the results of an advanced search of the database into employment related offences in retail.

Chart says: Government Agencies covering employment-related offences on Violation Tracker UK

Employment Tribunals are mostly very specific. However, when it comes to unlawful deductions of wages and discrimination, they can often point to a wider issue in the company. This information can be of use to workers at any point – whether it be raising a grievance internally or as supporting evidence for their own claim.

Helping better prepare for a formal grievance process is just one way in which Violation Tracker UK can be useful. Issues uncovered by regulatory investigations and employment tribunals can also help inform trade unionists ahead of negotiations with a company, and in following up on known problems. For example:

– Would a union survey of B&M workers reveal that the issues experienced by workers recorded on the tracker were resolved?

– What actions were taken by HR after these regulatory breaches?

– Are B&M shareholders asking for updates and demanding better for workers?

If you would like help understanding the data or would like a demonstration of how the database works, get in touch at [email protected]. Explore the database at violationtrackeruk.goodjobsfirst.org; on Twitter it’s VT__UK (note the two underscores).