Government gets tough on labour abuse and online job scams

The government is getting tough on labour exploitation and online job scams, with both the employment minister and director of labour market enforcement highlighting the issue today.

A statement, released by government today, reveals employment minister Damian Hinds is calling on recruiters and job boards to do more to tackle the ever-growing menace posed by online job scams.

Research from SAFERjobs (Safe Advice for Employment and Recruitment), the UK recruitment industry’s anti-fraud body created in 2010 to tackle the problem, reveals it has seen a 300% rise in reports from jobseekers.

Hinds calls on recruiters to sign up to SAFERjob’s campaign: “It’s unacceptable that jobseekers, typically ordinary people on low income, are being targeted by fraudsters. Looking for work can be tough enough and even the smallest setback can derail the most promising careers.

“That’s why I’m calling on more recruitment companies and job boards to take their responsibilities seriously, and follow our lead by promoting the excellent work of SAFERjobs.”

Meanwhile, Sir David Metcalf, the first director of labour market enforcement, released his introductory report today.

Since January, he has been responsible for setting the strategic priorities for the government’s three enforcement agencies: HMRC’s National Minimum Wage (NMW) enforcement team, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS).

Sir David revealed he would work with these enforcement bodies to:

  • better tackle illegal practices by implementing labour market enforcement undertakings and orders, which came into force in November 2016 and carry a maximum two-year prison sentence for serious or repeat offences
  • identify how best to ensure large employers’ supply chains do not breach labour market laws, particularly in the fashion, construction and cleaning sectors
  • review the effectiveness of current labour market enforcement efforts.

The statement also revealed that over the coming months Metcalf will consult business and worker representatives, industry bodies and enforcement action groups ahead of publishing his first full labour market enforcement strategy later this year.

“Tackling labour market abuses is an important priority for the government and I am encouraged it has committed record funds to cracking down on exploitation.

“Over the coming months I will be working with government enforcement agencies and industry bodies to better identify and punish the most serious and repeat offenders taking advantage of vulnerable workers and honest businesses.”

Metcalf also announced he will start consulting with stakeholders ahead of publishing his first full strategy later this year. Contributors are advised to email

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