A consultation entering its last weeks asks whether a new Single Enforcement Body for employment rights should be created to protect vulnerable workers.
The new body would tackle labour exploitation and modern slavery, workplace discrimination and, to some extent, health and safety.
It would bring together the Gangmasters Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and HMRC’s National Minimum Wage Team. Currently, these bodies are meant to work closely under one strategy but the system is ‘fragmented’ and not as effective as it could be, say the plans.
The GLAA supported the proposal, saying it would provide a “strong, recognisable brand for individuals to know to seek help from and go to”.
Margaret Beels, GLAA’s chair, said: “Our priority at the GLAA is the protection of vulnerable workers from exploitation and we welcome moves to make it easier for victims to access help and support.”
But the consultation also hints at bigger changes. It gives examples of other countries the UK could follow, such as Canada where the Ministry of Labour has responsibility for enforcing a broad swathe of employment rights.
It also asks whether the new body should police the ‘gaps’ in enforcement, including holiday entitlement and pay, an area which comes under HSE’s remit as part of the Working Time Regulations 1998, but is not currently enforced by it.
It could also have a role in enforcing discrimination and harassment in the workplace, currently owned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
There are 35 questions in the consultation. It forms part of the government’s good work plans, which have recently focused on new rights and protections. “We recognise that having the right legal framework alone is not enough,” it says. “Workers need to be able to enforce their rights effectively.”
Establishing a new Single Enforcement Body for employment rights closes 6 October: https://bit.ly/2lGTpPH
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