New labour market enforcement director role announced

Business secretary Sajid Javid wants agencies to work together to tackle labour market enforcement/REX Shutterstock

The Government will create a new role of director of labour market enforcement as part of its push to tackle exploitation in employment.

The creation of the new role was announced as it published its response to its consultation, “Tackling Exploitation in the Labour Market”, which concluded in December 2015.

Business secretary Sajid Javid said the creation of the new directorship would “help us to bring much needed coordination to the enforcement of labour market legislation, and an evidence-based annual labour market enforcement strategy will ensure that enforcement efforts are targeted where the risk of non-compliance is greatest”.

He added: “It’s not just workers who will benefit – if they’re not being undercut by unfair, illegal competition, responsible businesses will be able to grow faster and create more jobs.”

The full remit of the role is yet to be scoped out, but the Government has stated in its consultation response that it will “stretch across the whole of the labour market – including direct employment as well as labour providers – and the whole spectrum of non compliance, from accidental infringement to serious criminality”.

The original consultation included four key proposals: a new offence of aggravated breach of labour market legislation; police-style powers and a wider remit for the Gangmasters Licensing Authority; increased intelligence and data sharing between enforcement bodies and the National Crime Agency, and the proposed new director of labour market enforcement.

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority has been renamed the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority as part of the outcome of the consultation, reflecting its tougher powers over labour market exploitation.

Considering the increased emphasis on data sharing, Javid said: “It is likely that rogue businesses prepared to break one part of labour market law are also prepared to break other laws that protect workers.”

The Director’s Intelligence Hub will bring this data sharing together, drawing in information from all parts of government involved in the labour market.

Tom Hadley, director of policy at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), said it would be crucial “to ensure effective coordination and resourcing of existing inspectorates, rather than starting again from scratch”.

He added: “Representative bodies, such as the REC, have a vital role to play promoting and leading industry self-regulation. We will continue to drive up recruitment standards through our code of practice, complaints procedures and mandatory compliance test which resulted in 193 agencies being excluded from REC membership last year.”

The Government will pass legislation to create a statutory position of director of labour market enforcement in the Immigration Bill, which was introduced to Parliament in September 2015.

The consultation response added: “We intend to make amendments to ensure the role is properly defined in legislation with the necessary remit and powers to be effective.”

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