I'm worried about being victimised by my employer for claiming Working Tax Credit...

The law (Schedule 1 of the Tax Credits Act 2002) says that an employee has the right "not to be subjected to any detriment" (that is, any penalty or punishment) because:

  • they claimed Working Tax Credit; or
  • they were entitled to Working Tax Credi; or
  • the employer was penalised for breaking the Working Tax Credit rules.

An employee who is dismissed for one of these reasons is automatically treated as having been unfairly dismissed. Even if the employee is not actually entitled to Working Tax Credit, they still have the right not to be victimised if they acted in good faith. These rights still apply when someone was acting on behalf of the employee.

One important point to bear in mind is that there is no 'qualifying period' for these rights: the right not to be victimised applies from the first day of employment. Workers can take a victimisation claim to an employment tribunal and may be awarded up to £53,500 for unfair dismissal, and up to £260 per week (up to a maximum of £7,800) for loss of earnings.

Workers who are unfairly dismissed in connection with a tax credit claim may be awarded up to a maximum of £80,541 (April 2017) or 52 weeks' gross pay, whichever is the lower amount. In practice most compensation awards are much lower than this.

Someone who suffers detriment short of dismissal for claiming tax credits (for example, although they are not dismissed, they are picked on by their line manager) can claim compensation for financial losses and for injury to feelings. But, in practice, this kind of claim is likely to be difficult to prove. For example, it may be hard to prove that the manager's bad behaviour was caused by your decision to apply for tax credits.

Before lodging an Employment Tribunal claim, the employment advisory service Acas must be notified and this can be done through Early Conciliation.

There is no longer a requirement to pay a fee to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal or the Employment Appeals Tribunal. This was confirmed on July 26th 2017 by the Supreme Court, which declared unlawful the Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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