Clause 7

Part of Employment Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 14 October 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Pat McFadden Pat McFadden Minister of State (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) (Employment Relations and Postal Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 12:00, 14 October 2008

It is enforced by the tribunal. We will discuss migrant workers and the gangmasters, agencies and so on in the following clauses, but if I continue I may be able to enlighten the hon. Gentleman.

Employment tribunals already have powers to extend awards to full financial loss arising out of claims for holiday pay and breach of contract. The clause will allow workers to bring a combined tribunal claim covering both breaches of the law in all these areas, and claims for compensation for financial loss arising from such breaches. At the moment, workers can obtain the compensation in the claims covered by the clause only via a separate claim to the civil courts. The clause will remove the need for claimants to make a separate claim. It is also designed to encourage employers to make the correct payments in the first place.

The payments that an employment tribunal may currently order the employer to pay or repay under these circumstances are limited to the amount arising from the employer’s direct liability. This means that financial losses incurred by a claimant, which are over and above  the amount owed but which can be attributed to the non-payment, can be pursued only through the civil courts. Such losses might include, for example, charges incurred if a direct debit has failed or punitive interest on bank accounts that go into the red.

I will refer later to the work of the Government’s vulnerable worker enforcement forum, which I have chaired over the past year. One of the issues raised time and time again in that forum is just how marginal the existence of some workers is. Such workers are dependent on timely and correct payments, so it is absolutely right that financial loss, which occurs as a result of them not receiving those payments can be taken into account by the tribunal.