On Tuesday 8th June 2021, the UK government announced it is launching a “powerful” new worker’s watchdog to protect the rights of UK workers.
The watchdog will be responsible for tacking modern slavery, enforcing minimum wage and protecting agency workers. Previously, these were tackled by 3 different bodies, but under the new watchdog, they will be brought under one comprehensive new authority to combat businesses who break the rules.
“We welcome any legislations were the workers’ rights are protected and businesses like Integra People, who follow the rules and are fully compliant can flourish,” says Integra People Managing Director, David Lewis. “We hope that the government follow through with clear advice and guidance to smaller recruitment companies on best practice as promised”.
The plan includes seeing Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and HMRC’s National Minimum Wage Enforcement combined to create a single enforcement body. Up until now, the HMRC cannot act on holiday and sick pay, under the combined singularity, there would be power to ensure workers receive the holiday pay and sick pay they are entitled to.
By calling out companies that fail to pay workers, the Naming and Shaming scheme has been so far successful, this is planned to continue and enforcement of activity will be extended to cover other regulations protecting the pay of workers employed through agencies or by gangmasters in the agricultural sector. Companies that fail to be compliant and fail to pay workers face fines of up to £20,000 per worker.
In addition to Acas, the new body will provide guidance to build strong links with community and worker groups to spread awareness and support engagement with at-risk groups, including the low paid and employees in sectors such as construction and agriculture.
If brands’ behaviour doesn’t improve, the government have warned it could introduce harsher measures, including bans on goods made in factories where workers have been underpaid.