April 2019 – Employment Law Updates

Financial penalties for employers

On 17th December 2018, the government published the Good Work Plan which set out the government’s vision for the future of the UK labour market. Within the plan the government committed to a range of policy and legislative changes.

As a result of the Good Work Plan, the Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 (the “Regulations”) were made on 28th March 2019 in order to enforce various commitments which were set out in the plan.

As of 6th April 2019, the Regulations have increased the maximum level of penalty an employment tribunal may order in regards to an employer’s aggravated breach of employment law from £5,000 to £20,000. Whether or not there are aggravating features involved in the employer’s breach will be for the employment tribunal to decide on a case by case basis. The legislation does not define “aggravating features”, but the explanatory notes to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, suggest that “an employment tribunal may be more likely to find that the employer’s behaviour in breaching the law had aggravating features where the action was deliberate or committed with malice, the employer was an organisation with a dedicated human resources team, or where the employer had repeatedly breached the employment right concerned”.

The financial penalty is payable to the Secretary of State and will be reduced by 50% if the employer pays the penalty no later than 21 days after the notice of the decision to impose the penalty is sent to them.

Vento band increases

In discrimination and whistleblowing claims the bands of compensation that an employment tribunal can award for injury to feelings are known as the Vento bands. The compensation takes into account the hurt and upset that the employee has suffered.

The Vento bands act as guidelines for the amount of compensation that should be awarded, however, employment tribunals are entitled to use their discretion in assessing the award.

The three Vento bands are set out as follows:

  • Lower Band – appropriate for less serious cases, such as where the act of discrimination is an isolated or one-off occurrence.
  • Middle Band – serious cases, which do not merit an award in the highest band.  
  • Upper Band – the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of discriminatory harassment on the ground of sex or race.

As of 6th April 2019, the Vento bands have increased as follows:

  Claims presented on or after 6 April 2018 Claims presented on or after 6 April 2019
Lower Band £900 – £8,600 £900 – £8,800
Middle Band £8,600 – £25,700 £8,800 – £26,300
Upper Band £25,700 – £42,900 £26,300 – £44,000

These updated figures apply to cases presented on or after 6 April 2019.

If you would like more information about the changes addressed in this article or any other aspect of employment law, please contact us at 02920 345511 or employment@berrysmith.com.