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Employers could be penalised by tribunals for breaches of workers' rights where there are "aggravating features", BIS confirms

The Government has confirmed its intention to give employment tribunals the power to impose financial penalties on employers where they breach a worker's rights and there are "aggravating features".10 Oct 2013

In an enactment timetable published in August, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said there were "no current plans" to implement the provision, which is contained in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act. However, it now plans to do so next year, according to a post by Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson on Twitter.

The Act allows an employment tribunal to order an employer to pay an additional penalty to the Secretary of State where, while ruling on a claim between an employer and a worker, it concludes that the employer has breached any of the worker's rights to which the claim relates and that breach has "one or more aggravating features". It can do so whether or not it also makes a financial award against the employer. It is for the tribunal to decide whether an "aggravating feature" exists.

The penalty will be 50% of any award with a cap of £5,000, which is halved if paid within 21 days, according to the legislation. The minimum penalty where no award is made is £100.

A BIS spokesperson confirmed to that the provision would take effect from 6 April 2014.

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