Government announces crack down on rogue employers
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Released 05 Aug 2008
A new Government drive to crack down on rogue employers who abuse vulnerable
workers and undercut honest businesses was unveiled today.
The strategy includes a single telephone helpline for vulnerable workers to
report abuses to the Government's workplace enforcement agencies, breaking down
barriers so agencies can share vital information to catch rogue employers and a
£6 million information campaign to raise awareness of employment rights and how
to enforce them.
The crack down will be overseen by a new Fair Employment Enforcement Board
which will co-ordinate the work of the government enforcement agencies covering
minimum wage, health and safety, employment agencies and gangmasters. The new
Board will be chaired by the Employment Relations Minister and will include
representatives from business and trade unions, as well as the enforcement
The Vulnerable Workers Enforcement Forum, which was established to examine
abuses of employment law, has worked with the Government over the past year to
develop a report with key initiatives to protect workers.
Launching the final Forum report, Employment Relations Minister and Forum
Chair, Pat McFadden said:
"Compared to a decade ago there are three million more people in work in
Britain and they all enjoy more employment rights than they would have in the
past. Important minimum standards on wages, paid leave, maternity leave and
conditions have been put in place.
"However, as the Forum found, there are still dark corners of the labour
market where rogue employers seek to mistreat their workers and more needs to be
done to safeguard people's rights.
"We want to prevent unscrupulous employers who undercut honest competition
and prey on people who are fearful or so desperate to earn a living that they
are open to exploitation.
"It is vital we boost awareness of employment rights and ensure those rights
are properly enforced. There should be no hiding place for employers who exploit
vulnerable workers and who are not prepared to obey the law.
"This is in the interests of workers themselves and, as was made clear by
business representatives on the Forum, it is in the interests of the reputable
businesses who treat their workers fairly and obey the law.
Measures unveiled in the report include:
* Establishing a Fair Employment Enforcement Board to drive continued
progress towards effective collaboration between enforcement bodies including
HMRC, the Employment Agencies Standards Inspectorate (EAS), the Gangmasters
Licensing Authority and the Health and Safety Executive.
* A single telephone helpline for vulnerable workers to report abuses to the
Government's workplace enforcement agencies
* The launch of a sustained campaign, starting this year, to raise awareness
of employment rights issues and to encourage workers to report abuses.
* Changing legislation to allow HMRC, EAS and others to share information
allowing for more joined-up action on investigations
* Strengthening the Employment Agencies Standards Inspectorate.The number of
inspectors is to be doubled by the end of July, and awareness-raising will be
undertaken to raise its profile significantly. BERR is also introducing stronger
penalties for agency offences and increasing the investigative powers of the
Inspectorate. Measures to strengthen the penalties and investigative powers for
the National Minimum Wage are also included in the Employment Bill currently
going through Parliament.
* More contact between the enforcement agencies, advice bodies, community
groups and others to raise awareness of employment rights and build information
about non-compliant employers.
Among its key findings, the Forum identified:
* A low awareness of employment rights and how they are enforced among
vulnerable workers, along with a reluctance to report problems and a lack of
knowledge about how to do so.
* Complications created by five different enforcement bodies operating
separate helplines and a low profile of some enforcement bodies
The Government will continue to gather evidence on employment rights abuses
and ensure that it is doing everything possible to deliver on its promise to
protect vulnerable workers and support good employers.
The Government has recently taken a number of significant steps to strengthen
employment rights, including giving agency workers a right to withdraw from pay
deductions for transport or accommodation and an agreement to implement laws
giving agency workers equal treatment with permanent colleagues after 12 weeks
in a job.
1. A vulnerable worker is someone working in an environment where the risk of
being denied employment rights is high and who does not have the capacity or
means to protect themselves from that abuse.
2. The Vulnerable Worker Enforcement Forum was chaired by Employment
Relations Minister, Pat McFadden and included representatives from the TUC,
Unite, GMB, UCATT, USDAW, CBI, REC, HMRC, Health & Safety Executive, Gangmasters
Licensing Authority, Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and Citizens
3. The five bodies responsible for enforcing employment rights are:
* Employment Agencies Standards Inspectorate
* HMRC (National Minimum Wage)
* Health & Satefy Executive (for the 48 hour week as well as health and
* Defra (Agricultural minimum wage)
* Gangmasters Licensing Authority
4. The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform helps UK
business succeed in an increasingly competitive world. It promotes business
growth and a strong enterprise economy, leads the better regulation agenda and
champions free and fair markets. It is the shareholder in a number of
Government-owned assets and it works to secure, clean and competitively priced
About the Author
© Crown Copyright. Material taken from the BERR- Department
for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform replacing DTI - Department for
Trade and Industry. Reproduced under the terms and conditions of the Click-Use
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-08-06 00:51:34 in Business Articles