18 June 2021
A powerful new regulator will be created to protect the rights of UK workers, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has confirmed.
Responsibility for tackling modern slavery, enforcing the minimum wage and protecting agency workers — currently spread across three different bodies — will, it explained, be brought under one roof.
The aim is to create a comprehensive new authority which will ensure businesses that break the rules “have nowhere to hide”.
The new enforcement body will, BEIS said, be established through primary legislation when parliamentary time allows.
Bringing together the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and HMRC’s National Minimum Wage Enforcement, it will have a new power 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 also continue the 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.
This enforcement activity will be extended to cover other regulations protecting the pay of workers employed through agencies.
Business Minister Paul Scully 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 plans for the new body are confirmed in the Government’s response to a consultation held in 2019.