Government to unify labour enforcement bodies

The government has announced plans for a single labour market enforcement body, bringing several enforcement bodies under one roof.

In a statement yesterday, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Greg Clark revealed the proposal would be brought forward in the coming months, alongside several measures aimed at protecting and improving workers’ rights after Britain leaves the EU.

Currently, HM Revenue & Customs enforces the national minimum and living wages; the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority investigates reports of exploitation and illegal activity in the workplace; and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate protects the rights of agency workers. But this new body would have a range of powers, including enforcing holiday payments for vulnerable workers, ensuring agency workers are not underpaid, and would also take on a duty to consult unions and employment unions on its work.

Government also committed to giving Parliament the right through the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill to consider any future changes in EU law that strengthen workers’ rights or workplace health & safety standards, and vote on whether they also should be adopted into UK law. 

Parliament is also to be given regular updates on changes to EU rules in this area and give MPs a choice on the action government will take in response, including whether MPs want to decide that the UK should remain aligned with the EU. Trade unions, businesses and relevant select committees of Parliament will be consulted in preparing these updates.

This new process is to start with two EU Directives coming into force once the UK has left the EU and following the implementation period. These are the Work Life Balance Directive, which introduces new rights for parents and carers, such as two months of paid leave for each parent up until the child is eight and also five days of leave for those caring for sick relatives; and the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive, which will set the terms of employment for workers by their first working day and provides more stability if they work shifts. 

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