Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs, Jo Swinson, suggested on Twitter yesterday that the Government does now intend to implement Section 16 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, in April 2014, after having previously indicated that there were no plans to introduce the section.
Section 16 gives employment tribunals the right to impose penalties on employers where they are found to have breached workers’ rights. These penalties will be paid directly to the Secretary of State (not the Claimant) and will be in addition to any awards of compensation made to employees.
Whether employers will be ordered to pay a penalty will depend on whether there is “one or more aggravating factors,” although aggravating factors is not defined by the Act and will be left to the tribunal to decide. Examples of things that the tribunal will take into account when deciding on an appropriate penalty payment, could include the size of the employer, the duration of the breach of the employment right and the behavior of the employer and of the employee.
The amounts of the penalties will be between £100 and £5,000 but penalties will be reduced by 50% where the employer pays up within 21 days.