Section 15

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Debt bondage Wage manipulation, non-payment or withholding of wages

Section 15 declares the right of workers not to have to make payments to employer, and provides that an employer shall not receive a payment from a worker employed by him unless: the payment is required or authorised to be made by virtue of a statutory provision or a relevant provision of the worker’s contract; or the worker has previously signified in writing his agreement or consent to the making of the payment.

Notes

Section 23 enables a worker to present a complaint to an employment tribunal that his employer has received from him a payment in contravention of section 15. This complaint must be presented before the end of the three month period beginning with the date of payment of the wages from which the deduction was made, unless the employment tribunal is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable.

If the tribunal finds that a deduction was unlawful under section 15, it must make a declaration to that effect, and must order the employer to pay (or repay) to the worker the amount unlawfully deducted or received. The tribunal may also award a sum that it “considers appropriate” to compensate the worker for “any financial loss sustained by him which is attributable to the matter complained of” (section 24(2), ERA 1996).

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Section 15 – Right not to have to make payments to employer.

(1)An employer shall not receive a payment from a worker employed by him unless—

(a)the payment is required or authorised to be made by virtue of a statutory provision or a relevant provision of the worker’s contract, or

(b)the worker has previously signified in writing his agreement or consent to the making of the payment.

(2)In this section “relevant provision”, in relation to a worker’s contract, means a provision of the contract comprised—

(a)in one or more written terms of the contract of which the employer has given the worker a copy on an occasion prior to the employer receiving the payment in question, or

(b)in one or more terms of the contract (whether express or implied and, if express, whether oral or in writing) the existence and effect, or combined effect, of which in relation to the worker the employer has notified to the worker in writing on such an occasion.

(3)For the purposes of this section a relevant provision of a worker’s contract having effect by virtue of a variation of the contract does not operate to authorise the receipt of a payment on account of any conduct of the worker, or any other event occurring, before the variation took effect.

(4)For the purposes of this section an agreement or consent signified by a worker does not operate to authorise the receipt of a payment on account of any conduct of the worker, or any other event occurring, before the agreement or consent was signified.

(5)Any reference in this Part to an employer receiving a payment from a worker employed by him is a reference to his receiving such a payment in his capacity as the worker’s employer.

Law /United Kingdom / Employment Rights Act 1996

The Employment Rights Act 1996 (“ERA 1996”) establishes the rights of employees, including the rights to have a statement of their working conditions, not to suffer unauthorised deductions from wages, and to bring claims in the Employment Tribunal.

An employee or worker is entitled to present a claim before an employment tribunal on the ground that their rights have been breached. If the employment tribunal finds in their favour, it has the power to order the employer to pay compensation to the employee.