New measures to protect UK workers

14 October 2015

Recruitment firms who recruit solely from overseas without advertising in Great Britain and in English will be prevented from doing so, under plans announced by the Business Secretary.

The government will also consult on introducing a new criminal offence to tackle unscrupulous employers who subject vulnerable migrant workers to illegal working conditions and pay.

The proposals are put forward in two consultations on reforming recruitment sector legislation and tackling exploitation in the labour market.

Consultation on reforming the regulatory framework for the recruitment sector and proposal to prohibit EEA-only recruitment (13 October to 23 November 2015)

This consultation seeks views on proposed changes to the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations. These include:

  • The proposal to ban employment agencies and businesses from recruiting solely from other European Economic Area (EEA) countries without advertising in Great Britain, either at the same time or in the 28 days prior to any overseas recruitment activity. They would need to comply with the Resident Labour Market Test which requires employers to provide evidence to UK Visas and Immigration that this requirement was met and yielded no suitable candidate.

Consultation on tackling exploitation in the labour market – (13 October to 9 November 2015)

This consultation seeks views on a range of proposals to improve the effectiveness of the enforcement of employment rights to protect workers from exploitation. These include:

  • Establishing a statutory Director of Labour Market Enforcement who will set priorities across enforcement bodies (HMRC National Minimum Wage team, Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority) dealing with everything from criminal activity to payroll errors.
  • Creating a new offence of an aggravated breach of labour market legislation which will target those employers who deliberately, persistently and brazenly commit breaches of labour law, and fail to take remedial action. Being found guilty could lead to a custodial sentence.
  • Increasing intelligence and data sharing between the existing enforcement bodies and also other bodies such as the National Crime Agency, police forces and local authorities to increase the targeting of enforcement.
  • Widening the remit, increasing the powers and changing the name of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to enable it to deal with serious exploitation whether employed through an agency, gangmaster or direct employer. Trained staff will be able to use police-style powers so they can seek and use search warrants to secure crucial evidence.

 CIPP comment

There is a rather short time scale allocated to these consultations; however The Policy Team will dissect both documents and consult with members and other stakeholders if deemed necessary.