The government has announced the formation of the Single Enforcement Body, which will serve to protect UK workers’ rights. The new watchdog has been formed through the merging of the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority and HMRC’s National Minimum Wage Enforcement.
The three bodies have been brought together to create a comprehensive authority to protect agency workers, enforce the minimum wage and combat modern slavery. It is hoped that this unified body will make enforcement more efficient by improving co-ordination and sharing intelligence. Another key advantage of a unified agency is providing workers with one single body to go to should they wish to report bad behaviour or learn more about their rights.
The Single Enforcement Body will also have a new power, enabling it to ensure that vulnerable workers receive the holiday and statutory sick pay that they are entitled to without the need to turn to an employment tribunal.
Business Minister Paul Scully commented: “This government has been absolutely clear that we will do whatever we can to protect and enhance workers’ rights. The vast majority of businesses want to do right by their staff, but there are a minority who seem to think the law doesn’t apply to them. Exploitative practices like modern slavery have no place in society.”
“This new workers’ watchdog will help us crack down on any abuses of workers’ rights and take action against companies that turn a blind eye to abuses in their supply chains, while providing a one-stop shop for employees and businesses wanting to understand their rights and obligations.”
Following the announcement, some figures from the freelance and contractor industry have raised concerns that a single body will in fact dilute the government’s ability to enforce workers’ rights. There have also been calls for the government to take robust action to specifically tackle non-compliant umbrella companies.
Author: Steven English