REC and TUC urge government to include Employment Bill in Queen’s Speech

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) and TUC have written a joint letter to the labour market minister, urging the government to include the Employment Bill in the Queen’s Speech.

Sent yesterday, the joint letter to Paul Scully MP says that the Bill is needed “to tackle wide ranging, systemic issues in the labour market enforcement system, such as extending the powers and remit of the enforcement bodies so they can effectively tackle the wide spectrum of exploitation”.

“As representatives of businesses and workers respectively, we are concerned about reports that the government is planning to renege on its promise to improve regulations and enforcement for agencies and those employed through them.”

According to a statement from the REC: “This Bill is long overdue and will be vital for improving enforcement in the recruitment sector and protecting workers and businesses, including from rogue umbrella companies.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady adds: “This government was elected on a manifesto promise to make Britain the best place to work in the world.

“Anything less than an Employment Bill today would be an act of betrayal – the government will have conned working people.”

The TUC says that the following policies were all promised within an Employment Bill, and are now at risk of being ditched altogether:

  • Ensure that tips go to workers in full.
  • Introduce a new right for all workers to request a more predictable contract.
  • Create a new, single enforcement body, offering greater protections for workers.
  • Extend redundancy protections to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
  • Make flexible working the default unless employers have good reason not to.
  • Allow parents to take extended paid leave for neonatal care.
  • Introduce a new legal entitlement to one week’s leave for unpaid carers.

The letter highlights that while agencies work within a clear and specialist framework of laws, including the Employment Agencies Act and Conduct Regulations, no such framework yet exists for umbrella companies. 

“It’s been over four years since the government accepted a recommendation, from the Taylor Review of Modern Working practices, that umbrella companies needed to be regulated. 

“Recruiters and workers alike have responded to the government’s call for evidence on umbrellas with the good faith that action is imminent. It’s time the government made good on this promise and to protect hard-working businesses and workers in the recruitment sector.”

The letter concludes: “Wider reforms to the labour market enforcement system are needed and remain a priority for ensuring efficient and effective enforcement practices in the UK labour market. 

“The existing enforcement bodies such as Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, HMRC’s National Minimum Wage Team and the Gangmaster Labour Abuse Authority are doing the best they can but need proper resourcing, and powers that enable them to investigate effectively, to really deliver on enforcement.”

To read the letter in full, please click here.

AMENDED 12:45, 10 MAY 2022, FOLLOWING THE QUEEN'S SPEECH

Neil Carberry, CEO of the REC, said: “It is incredibly disappointing that the government has chosen to kick the Employment Bill into the long grass again. It was due to contain measures to improve enforcement in the labour market and regulate umbrella companies, helping to protect workers from exploitation and compliant businesses from being undercut. 

“It is now two and a half years since the Employment Bill was first promised, and five years since the Taylor review into modern working practices – the government must prove its commitment to this issue and bring forward this bill as soon as possible.”

And the TUC general secretary O’Grady added: “The prime minister promised to make Britain the best place in the world to work. But he has turned his back on working people. Today, bad bosses up and down the country will be celebrating.

“No employment bill means vital rights that ministers had promised – like default flexible working, fair tips and protection from pregnancy discrimination – risk being ditched for good.

“And it means no action on the scourge of insecure work and ending exploitative practices like zero-hours contracts and fire and rehire.”

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