As part of its ongoing review of Employment Law the Government has announced further measures that it proposes to take. Amongst these it has begun a ‘call for evidence’ on current whistleblowing legislation and has published its responses on the consultation regarding changes to the rules governing the recruitment sector. These measures are looked at in more detail below:
Following these changes the government has issued a call for evidence to consider areas of the whistleblowing legislation and procedure that were not considered in the ERRA, but which may require amendment to ensure an effective system is in place to deal with all instances of wrongdoing in the workplace.
While the ERRA made changes in respect of the definition of worker, the concepts of bad faith and public interest and clarified the position in relation to vicarious liability, the Government believes that there are other matters within the whistleblowing legislation that need to be addressed. As such, the call for evidence has requested information and feedback in relation to the following:
- whether a code of practice for employers should be introduced to provide guidance on best practice for whistleblowing policies;
- whether the referral of whistleblowing claims to prescribed persons / bodies should be mandatory;
- whether the list of prescribed bodies to which protected disclosures can be made should be amendable by the Secretary of State rather than by a statutory instrument as is currently required; and
- whether the definition of “worker” is sufficiently wide enough to capture all of those who should be protected by the whistleblowing framework.
Full details of the Government’s Call for Evidence can be found by visiting https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/whistleblowing-framework-call-for-evidence
Reforming the Regulatory Framework for the Recruitment Sector
The legislation which currently governs the recruitment sector is considered by the Government to be out of date, complicated and in need of reform. As such the Government launched a consultation into this regulatory framework which ran from January to April 2013. Through the consultation the Government sought views on ‘when it is appropriate for the government to impose rules on the recruitment sector and when it is more appropriate for the sector and marketplace to decide the rules for themselves’. It also sought views on enforcement.
After considering the responses to this consultation the Government has stated that it intends to proceed with its plans for a new regulatory framework for employment businesses and agencies. It has advised that the purpose of this new framework will be to reduce some of the burden on business and to focus on the areas where those seeking work are most at risk of exploitation. Further short consultation will be carried out once the draft legislation has been prepared.
The proposed new legislation will:
- ensure employment businesses do not withhold payments from temporary workers;
- restrict employment agencies and employment businesses from charging fees to work-seekers (there will be exemptions for certain circumstances in the entertainment and modelling sector as in the current legislation);
- ensure that where more than one business work together to supply a temporary worker to a hirer that there is clarity on who is responsible for paying the temporary worker;
- prevent employment businesses and employment agencies from penalising a temporary worker for terminating or giving notice to terminate a contract;
- prevent employment businesses from enforcing unreasonable terms on a hirer when a temporary worker takes up permanent employment with that hirer;
- ensure that employment agencies and employment businesses keep sufficient records to demonstrate they have complied with the regulations.
Changes will also be made to enforcement strategy relating to the recruitment sector. Among these one of the Governments main focuses will be on safeguarding the most vulnerable workers and to this end resources will be moved from the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) team at HMRC who will investigate non-payment of NMW to temporary workers.
Responses to the consultation also raised concerns about abuse of upfront fees in the entertainment and modelling sectors and the Government has stated that it intends to speak to stakeholders so that it may obtain a better understanding of these issues.
A copy of the consultation and the Government’s response can be found by visiting https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-reforming-the-regulatory-framework-for-employment-agencies-and-employment-businesses