Tackling Exploitation in the Labour Market – The Government’s Response

Regular readers of this blog will recall that we previously reported on proposals to improve labour market exploitation and employment law compliance.  In summary it is proposed that a new post of Director of Labour Market Enforcement will be created which will deal with non-compliance in all areas of employment law such as National Minimum Wage, Health and Safety, Immigration etc.

The Department of Business Innovation and Skills has now published their Consultation Response document which has provided further guidance on the measures it is proposing to introduce.

The proposed Director of Labour Market Enforcement’s remit will stretch across the whole of the labour market and will tackle the whole of the spectrum of non-compliance, from accidental infringement to serious criminality. The Director will bring together the work of the existing enforcement agencies, working towards a more joined-up and cohesive approach to infringement. The Director will produce an annual labour market enforcement strategy which will set the annual priorities for the work of the enforcement bodies.

The Government will also introduce a new type of enforcement order for non-compliance which will be supported by a criminal offence. Labour market enforcement bodies will be able to apply to a court for an enforcement order where a business had refused to give or failed to comply with an undertaking. Breach of the order will be a criminal offence triable either way and punishable by imprisonment for up to 12 months following summary conviction, or two years following conviction on indictment.

The Government also plans to transform the Gangmaster’s Licensing Authority into the Gangmaster’s and Labour Abuse Authority which will work to prevent, detect and investigate worker exploitation across all labour sectors.

An intelligence hub will also be created as a mechanism to allow data sharing between the all relevant authorities (including the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and HMRC) to allow for a more joined up approach to tackling infringement.

Most of the proposed reforms are included in the Immigration Bill, which was introduced into Parliament on 17 September 2015. The Bill has already progressed through the House of Commons is due before the House of Lords (Committee Stage) later this month.

For advice on the potential impact of the draft legislation on your organisation, please contact a member of the Devonshires Employment Team.


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