Monday 11 August 2008

Vulnerable Workers

Business leaders have breathed a sigh of relief after a crackdown on rogue employers of vulnerable workers announced today did not include new laws.

The strategy instead features a telephone helpline for vulnerable workers to report abuses, and a £6m information campaign to raise awareness of employment rights as reported in

The Vulnerable Worker Enforcement Forum made recommendations which included representatives from business, unions, recruiters and the government.

Neil Carberry, head of employment at the CBI, said; "This report is good news for law-abiding employers. Britain has a strong framework of employment rights and it is where these laws are flouted that employees are open to exploitation. New laws and regulations do little to tackle unscrupulous firms, who simply ignore the law while they undercut law- abiding businesses. This package of reforms will not increase the burden for honest businesses, but will help protect workers who are being denied their employment rights".

The new Fair Employment Enforcement Board, chaired by the employment relations minister Pat McFadden, will co-ordinate the work of the government enforcement agencies covering minimum wage, health and safety, employment agencies and gang masters.

Among the new measures is the induction of a telephone helpline to report abuses to government workplace enforcement agencies. The Employment Agencies Standards Inspectorate is to be strengthened by doubling the number of its inspectors by the end of July 2009 and have its profile raised significantly, while BERR (The department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform) will also introduce stronger penalties for agency offences. As part of the crack down, agencies are being encouraged to share more information.

Pat McFadden said: "There are still dark corners of the labour market where rogue employers seek to mistreat their workers and more needs to be done to safeguards people's rights. We want to prevent unscrupulous employers who undercut honest competition and prey on people who are fearful or so desperate to earn a living that they are open to exploitation. It is vital we boost awareness of employment rights and ensure those rights are properly enforced".

Chris Crawford is the MD of BD Recruitment, a specialist recruiter for copywriter jobs, sem jobs and web programmer jobs, based in Manchester, UK.

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