Government confirms Single Enforcement Body to protect workers rights
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has this morning confirmed that plans for a Single Enforcement Body will go ahead. Business Minister Paul Scully has said “We will take action against big brands that turn a blind eye to abuses.” The one-stop shop will be a powerful new workers’ watchdog created by merging three different enforcement bodies, including the Employment Agency Standards inspectorate.
NEW responsibility for holiday pay
As well as enforcing all existing powers belonging to the three agencies, the single enforcement body will have a new ability to ensure vulnerable workers get the holiday pay they are entitled to – which we know has been a particular problem recently for some workers engaged by an umbrella or recruitment agency. In the worst of cases, a minority of agencies and umbrellas have been accused of splitting workers’ holiday pay monies between them, despite the client having paid this in order to meet their statutory obligation of providing holiday to their workers. It’s a serious problem with the amount of funds being misappropriated adding up to millions of pounds annually.
Will it really have an impact on workers?
Yes, if the government is to be believed, this really will have a positive impact on all UK workers. They say that increased enforcement will make sure that good businesses aren’t undercut by unscrupulous rivals who aren’t paying or treating their workers correctly. We know that the supply of workers through an agency or other intermediary can be achieved much cheaper if their workers are not treated properly, or even cheaper if those workers are self-employed and therefore not entitled to any statutory rights. So in order to achieve better enforcement, there needs to be sufficient investment in the resources to do this, and a multi-faceted remit which can consider multiple issues simultaneously.
What about regulating the umbrella sector?
At the time of writing, no new plans to regulate the umbrella sector have been issued by the government. Umbrella firms were due to become part of the Employment Agency Standards remit, however this body will now become absorbed into the Single Enforcement Body so it is possible that plans for umbrella regulation will be revisited. There is a lot of pressure on the government to take more immediate action in relation to the umbrella sector (due to both the holiday pay scandal and the loan charge scandal) and some viable alternatives to regulation were published yesterday, read more here.