Criminal offences and HR

by Laurie Anstis on August 28, 2013

99% of employment law is civil law, but there are some odd bits of employment law that actually are about criminal offences – the kind of thing you can get fined or sent to prison for.

Here’s a short list of some of the criminal offences a Human Resources manager might end up committing in the course of his or her career – some of which have surprised me. Of course, there are also a large number of criminal offences that could be committed in relation to payroll taxes and health and safety, but I have kept them off the list.

Failing to notify the Secretary of State of plans to make 20 or more people redundant – s194 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Permitting an employee to return to work within two weeks of giving birth – s72 Employment Rights Act 1996.

Failing to provide a written statement showing how a redundancy payment has been calculated – s165 Employment Rights Act 1996.

Processing personal data without being registered under the Data Protection Act (now called “notification”) – s21 Data Protection Act 1998.

Failure to take reasonable steps to ensure that a worker does not work more than an average 48 hours week, and failure to keep records of workers who have opted out of that requirement (and various other offences under the Working Time Regulations) – s29 Working Time Regulations 1998.

Refusing or wilfully neglecting to pay the national minimum wage (and various other offences, including failing to keep proper records) – s31 National Minimum Wage Act 1998.

Knowingly employing someone who does not have the right to work in the UK – s21 of the Immigration and Nationality Act 2006.

Anyone got any other criminal offences to add to this list?

[Update: thanks to Dan Myers for his comment on smoking at work, and Matt Jackson for his tweet on the Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985.]


Employers have a duty to prevent smoking in most workplaces; a failure to comply is a criminal offence under section 8(4) of the Health Act 2006 (although there are certain “reasonable steps” defences).

There is also a separate offence under section 6(1) of the Act to make sure that no-smoking signs are correctly displayed. Again, there are some statutory defences.

(I suppose these could come under health and safety, but worth a mention.)

by Dan Myers on 28 August 2013 at 2:40 pm. #

[…] Article […]

by Interesting list of HR crimes. | Lawyers for Employers on 28 August 2013 at 8:51 pm. #

[…] have posted a list of employment law obligations which can amount to criminal offences (see the original post for the updated […]

by Criminal Offences and HR | Legal Weasel on 29 August 2013 at 3:28 pm. #