Employment tribunals not penalising employers for aggravated breaches of employment law

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Posted on 16 Jan 2017

Employers have paid just £17,704 in financial penalties for aggravated breaches of employment law, the Government has admitted. Fines have been imposed in only 18 cases, and paid in only 12. 

The fines, ranging between a minimum of £100 and a maximum of £5,000, were introduced in 2013 and at that time the Government estimated that fines would be imposed in 25% of case, resulting in a payment to the Treasury of £2.8m per annum. 

An employment tribunal can award a penalty where an employer is found to have breached a worker’s rights and the breach has one or more aggravating features, such as where the breach is deliberate or where the employer has repeatedly breached the right concerned. 

The lack of penalties is thought to be a consequence of the reduction in employment tribunal claims, following the introduction of fees. This has meant that there are fewer low value claims against rogue employers, which were precisely the type of case that the penalties were intended for. 

The results of the Government’s review of the impact of employment tribunal fees are still awaited.

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