TUC worried about ditching of manifesto pledge on rights enforcement

The TUC has expressed concerns about the Government’s decision to ditch plans to create a single enforcement body to police employment rights.

Employee Rights


The TUC has expressed concerns over reports that the Government has scrapped a manifesto pledge to create a new workers’ rights enforcement body.

In their 2019 manifesto the Conservatives pledged to create a single enforcement body with a brief to investigate and penalise employers who are found to be abusing employment law.

Currently, responsibility for enforcing/monitoring a number of statutory rights is split between various bodies, including HMRC, the Employment Agencies Standards Inspectorate, and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority. The Director of Labour Market Enforcement also has statutory/strategic functions. The manifesto proposal, drawing on Matthew Taylor’s Good Work Plan, aimed to bring the functions of all these bodies under one Labour Market Enforcement Body.

Among the benefits outlined by the Conservatives was that a single body could provide a strong, recognisable single brand; better support for businesses, pooled intelligence, more effective use of resources and co-ordinated enforcement action.

The manifesto claimed to “strive to achieve the right regulatory balance between supporting excellent business practice and protecting workers”, balancing plans to get rid of so-called red tape after Brexit while also strengthening employment rights. Unions have long expressed concerns that Brexit will lead to a reduction in employment rights.

The Telegraph reported today that the Business Secretary Grant Shapps had confirmed the pledge to create the body would be scrapped.

Tim Sharp, senior employment rights policy officer at the TUC, said: “Workers will rightly be asking questions about the government’s priorities.

“Ministers have ditched their flagship workers’ rights initiative while threatening the right to strike and making it more difficult for working people to defend their pay and conditions.

“There are huge problems with bad employers failing to observe workers’ rights – from non-payment of holiday pay to exploitation of migrant workers on seasonal visas.

“A major problem is under-resourcing, with the UK having far fewer labour inspectors than international norms. Vulnerable workers will be paying the price for ministers’ failure to act.”

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