What help is available if you can’t afford fines for health and safety breaches? 

If you find yourself unable to cover a health and safety penalty, which includes intervention charges, you might explore options like reorganising your finances or seeking extra funding. If these steps aren’t viable, you’ll have to wind up your limited company or consider bankruptcy if you operate as a sole trader.


My company can’t pay health and safety fines

When companies violate UK health and safety rules, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) can impose hefty fines. It’s not feasible to reduce the risk of health and safety fines through insurance because prosecution for breaking these rules is a criminal matter, leading to criminal fines.

In certain situations, fines can be limitless. If the affected person or their family opts for a civil case against the employer, there’s a chance of additional compensation being granted to the individual involved.


Severe penalty regime for health and safety misdemeanours

It’s not just fines for breaking health and safety rules that can put a strain on a business’s finances. If there’s a significant breach uncovered, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) may charge Intervention Fees to cover the costs of their investigation or inspection, adding more financial pressure to your business.

Considering the potential for serious and life-threatening injuries at the workplace, it’s not surprising that employers can face substantial fines for not following the rules, and in some cases, personal liability.

Directors, company officers, and sole traders may also face legal action from the injured party, potential disqualification as a director, and public naming of the company in relation to its health and safety track record.

So, what happens when you’re unable to pay your health and safety fines, and what are the implications for you as a director or business owner?


What happens when I can’t pay my health and safety fines?

If your company can’t manage to pay the fines imposed by the HSE, you might have to go into liquidation and shut down the business. Depending on the situation, you could also be personally responsible as a company director.

Additionally, any business officer can be charged for health and safety violations if the Health and Safety Executive finds neglect or can specifically attribute part or full responsibility for an incident to an individual.

As a sole trader in this scenario, you face the risk of bankruptcy if you can’t afford the health and safety fine. But whether you’re a company director or a sole trader, you might be able to keep trading by reorganising your debts or getting extra finance.

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What are my options if I can’t afford health and safety fines?

Depending on how serious the situation is and how hefty the fines are, you might ease some financial strain on your business by rearranging your debts through a formal agreement with creditors.

Even though you can’t include health and safety fines in a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), repaying other debts at a more manageable rate could free up crucial extra working capital to help settle the fines.

The CVA process involves appointing a licensed insolvency practitioner (IP) who would evaluate your overall situation, taking into account the impact and consequences of the health and safety fines on your business’s future.

Knowing and understanding your best choices can be a big help when you’re unsure about the right path. Options might involve getting extra funds to settle your health and safety fines and, depending on their amount, even some other debts.

For dependable and impartial advice when you’re struggling to pay your health and safety fines, get in touch with our team at Vanguard Insolvency. We’re a key part of Begbies Traynor Group, the UK’s largest professional services consultancy, and we focus on assisting businesses with debt issues. We also provide consultations on the same day from our widespread network of offices across the country, so you can easily get the support you require.

David Jackson MD
Senior Partner at Vanguard Insolvency Practitioners | Website

I am an insolvency professional with a distinguished career specialising in commercial insolvency, adeptly navigating Creditors Voluntary Liquidation, Company Voluntary Arrangements, and Company Administrations. With a comprehensive understanding of insolvency laws and an unwavering commitment to ethical practices.