Director of Labour Market sets out recommendations to tackle exploitation of the low paid
The independent report from Sir David Metcalf comes as new HMRC stats show that its enforcement teams have doubled the number of underpaid workers they have recouped money for to 200,000 in 2017.
Metcalf’s strategy includes bigger financial penalties for employers who exploit workers, enforcing holiday pay and making employers provide a statement of rights for employees and a payslip for all workers.
The recommendations also include making leading brands jointly responsible for non-compliance in their supply chains. This would be done in private but with apublic naming of the brand and supplier for failure to correct non-compliance.
In addition, it suggests that more resources are given to the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate to enforce current regulations and to expand its remit to cover umbrella companies and intermediaries
There is also the idea of the local or regional piloting licencing of hand car washes and nail bars, which have been identified as sectors at risk of labour exploitation.
Metcalf said: “This strategy sets out how we can toughen up enforcement activity to protect vulnerable workers and ensure that good, compliant firms are not undercut by unscrupulous competitors.
“It’s important the Government has the necessary powers to crack down on bad bosses who exploit and steal from their workers – that includes bigger penalties to put employers off breaking the law.
“I’d like to thank all the employers, workers and regulators I have met in the last year that have given me very valuable insights into the labour market.”
Metcalf was appointed in January 2017 to oversee a government crackdown on exploitation in the workplace by setting the strategic priorities for the HMRC’s National Minimum Wage enforcement team, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate.
In February the government set out its Good Work plan which introduced new reforms that included proposals to increase transparency surrounding the labour market, employment status, and the enforcement of employment rights.
In March it also launched a consultation to improve the UK’s corporate governance framework which included proposals to give the Insolvency Service new powers to investigate directors of dissolved companies.
Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “We will not accept illegal behaviour from bosses who exploit their workers and cheat the competition which is why we are already cracking down on irresponsible company directors and boosting protections for workers.
“We will enforce holiday pay and give new rights for every worker to get a payslip and a list of their rights when they start a job as part of our modern Industrial Strategy plans to build a Britain fit for the future.
“I’d like to thank Sir David for his important work looking at enforcement and exploitation in the labour market.”
The government will respond formally to Metcalf’s report later this year.
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