A powerful new workers’ watchdog is to be created to protect the rights of employees in the UK.
According to the Government, the new body will take over the responsibilities of the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, and HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) minimum wage enforcement agency.
It means the new watchdog will be responsible for enforcing the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW), the HMRC’s “Naming and Shaming” scheme, modern slavery, whistleblowing, and statutory holiday, bereavement and sickness pay – including Jack’s Law, which entitles bereaved parents to two weeks’ leave.
The Government also warned that harsher measures could be introduced for rogue employers, including “bans on goods made in factories where workers have been underpaid”.
But the new body will also provide helpful guidance for employers, ensuring they stay compliant and up to date with employment rights.
Announcing the move, Business Minister Paul Scully said the “one-stop shop” approach will help improve enforcement through “better co-ordination and pooling intelligence”.
“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,” he said.
“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 announcement comes after a comprehensive consultation period, demonstrating that existing enforcement activity could be made even more effective for vulnerable workers.
Samantha Randall, an Associate Solicitor with Palmers who specialises in employment law, said: “The construction industry has already made great strides in protecting workers; developing joint protocols with existing agencies such as the GLAA, in a bid to eradicate slavery and labour exploitation.
“A date has yet to be confirmed for the formal creation of this new body and the transfer of responsibilities, however the announcement underlines the Government’s continuing commitment to protecting employee rights.
“By providing a single point of reference, it is hoped this will provide even greater clarity for employers, the vast majority of whom are keen to ensure the welfare of their workers comes first.”
At Palmers Solicitors we offer construction firms a complete employment law and HR service, either to support your in-house team or on an outsourced basis.
We are flexible and can tailor our services to the needs of your business, giving you peace of mind that whatever the employment law or HR issue may be.
For help and advice please get in touch with our expert employment law team.