Action on exploitation

New watchdog to protect workers’ rights

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The new body will ensure workers are properly paid

A new workers’ watchdog will take responsibility for ensuring British workers do not suffer from exploitation.

The new body will bring together the work of three bodies to tackle modern slavery, enforce the minimum wage and provide protection for agency workers.

It aims to improve enforcement through better coordination and pooling of 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 three 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.

UK Business Minister Paul Scully said: “This Government has been absolutely clear that we will do whatever we can to protect and enhance workers’ rights. 

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“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 UK 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.

The new body will continue the successful Naming and Shaming scheme, which calls out companies who fail to pay workers what they are owed and can hit rogue employers with fines of up to £20,000 per worker.

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