Government confirms creation of new workers’ watchdog

08 June 2021

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has confirmed that a new workers’ watchdog will be established, with the purpose of protecting the rights of UK workers.

There will be a Single Enforcement Body established (SEB), which combines the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and HMRC’s National Minimum Wage (NMW) Enforcement.

This is not a new development and a consultation on the subject was held back in 2019, as part of the good work plan.

The SEB will take responsibility for combatting modern slavery and enforcing the minimum wage, along with affording protections for agency workers, and it is believed that the creation of one body will improve enforcement as there will be increased co-ordination and shared intelligence. It will also mean that there is a clear direction for workers, as they will know what their rights are and be able to blow the whistle where things aren’t being done correctly. There will also be enhanced abilities for the SEB to ensure that vulnerable workers receive the holiday pay and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) that they are entitled to, without the requirement of having to go down the route of an employment tribunal.

The SEB will assist businesses by providing them with guidance on their duties towards staff. Higher levels of enforcement will also ensure that businesses who behave correctly are not undercut by rival employers who don’t act in accordance with the law and who are not treating their workers properly.

The SEB will also be responsible for the Naming and Shaming scheme, which publishes the name of companies who do not pay workers what they are legally entitled to. Employers who do not pay workers correctly can be issued fines of up to £20,000 per worker.

It has been confirmed that the new enforcement body will be created when Parliamentary time allows, through primary legislation.

 


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