From 25th Oct 2013, in respect of any claims lodged after that date, employment tribunals will be empowered to levy additional financial penalties on employers who have breached workers’ rights, where the breach has any “aggravating factor”.
Where the employer is unsuccessful at hearing, the tribunal will be able to order the employer to pay a penalty of between £100 and £5,000. The penalty will be halved if the employer pays it within 21 days of the tribunal’s decision.
The key will be what the tribunal considers to be an “aggravating factor”; the definition of which is not clear at this stage. Merely losing at tribunal is unlikely to be sufficient to trigger a penalty, but pursuing an unreasonable defence or otherwise conducting proceedings in an unreasonable manner may well trigger a fine.