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The Government has announced the creation of a single enforcement body on employment rights.
The Government has announced plans to create a single enforcement body to protect employment rights.
The body will bring together responsibility for tackling modern slavery, enforcing the minimum wage and protecting agency workers – currently spread across three different bodies, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and HMRC’s National Minimum Wage Enforcement.
The Government says the new watchdog will also provide a single, recognisable port of call for workers so they know their rights and can blow the whistle on bad behaviour. And it will provide employers with guidance on their obligations to staff and on best practice, working with community and worker groups to target at-risk groups.
The 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.
It will continue the Naming and Shaming scheme, which calls out companies who fail to pay workers what they are owed. and it will be extended to cover other regulations protecting the pay of workers employed through agencies or by gangmasters in the agricultural sector.
The government will also explore further measures to target abuses in the garment sector specifically, following reports of serious problems in the industry.
The TUC criticised the announcement, saying no clear timeframe for the new body was given and that the proposals “do not tackle the systemic problems with the enforcement system and will add to the government’s litany of failures in respect to employment rights reform”, notably the failure to bring forward the promised employment bill in the Queen’s Speech to boost labour rights.
The news comes as an Acas report on firing and rehiring was published. The report gathered a range of views from professional bodies with workplace expertise, including trade unions and employer organisations. It found that some employers were using fire and rehire to reduce redundancies, while others objected to the practice and said the Covid pandemic has been used as a ‘smokescreen’ to diminish workers’ terms and conditions. Acas says it will produce further guidance that encourages good workplace practices when negotiating changes to staff contracts. The Labour Party is calling for the fire and rehire practice to be outlawed.