A powerful new workers’ watchdog will be created to protect the rights of UK workers, the government confirmed yesterday (8 Jun).
Responsibility for tackling modern slavery, enforcing the minimum wage and protecting agency workers – currently spread across 3 different bodies – will be brought under one roof, creating a comprehensive new authority, which will ensure businesses that break the rules have nowhere to hide.
This ‘one-stop shop’ approach will help improve enforcement through better co-ordination and pooling intelligence.
The new watchdog will also enhance workers’ rights by providing a single, recognisable port of call for workers so they know their rights and can blow the whistle on bad behaviour.
The body will support businesses to do the right thing by their employees by providing guidance on their obligations to staff. Meanwhile, increased enforcement will make sure good businesses aren’t undercut by unscrupulous rival employers who aren’t paying or treating their workers correctly.
As well as enforcing all existing powers belonging to the 3 agencies, the new body will have a new ability to ensure vulnerable workers get the holiday pay and statutory sick pay they are entitled to – without having to go through a lengthy employment tribunal process.
Business Minister Paul Scully said: "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."
The plans, confirmed in a consultation response, come as part of the government’s wider efforts to protect workers’ rights.
Since last year alone, the government has boosted the minimum wage for around 2 million employees, protected furloughed workers’ parental pay, brought Jack’s Law into force to support bereaved parents, and more.
The government’s plans will see the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and HMRC’s National Minimum Wage Enforcement combined to create a single enforcement body.
Source: FE News