Rogue Employer Clampdown will help Honest Firms

A government drive to crackdown on rogue employers has been unveiled, which aims to stop employers exploiting vulnerable workers and ignoring workplace regulations.

The creation of the Fair Employment Enforcement Board is expected to benefit honest businesses that have previously been undercut by those that avoid paying taxes and fail to implement health and safety measures.

The Fair Employment Enforcement Board will oversee new measures that include a telephone line for workers to report workplace abuses, a doubled inspectorate with increased powers to seize documents, a facility for sharing information about rogue employers, and a £6 million awareness campaign.

Sectors such as the construction industry, rather than those already monitored by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, are likely to be targeted. Employment Relations Minister Pat McFadden said;

“We want to prevent unscrupulous employers who undercut honest competition and prey on people who are fearful or so desperate earn a living they are open to exploitation,”

"This is in the interests of workers themselves and, as was made clear by business representatives on the Forum, it is in the interests of the reputable businesses who treat their workers fairly and obey the law."

The Federation of Master Builders welcomed the legislation, stating that the sector has been plagued by ‘cowboy builders’. According to FMB director of external affairs, Brian Berry;

“Proper enforcement will ensure that there’s a level playing field and a consistency of standards,”

“There has been a big problem in this industry with cowboy builders taking advantage, not complying with health and safety standards or buying the proper protective equipment, avoiding employment law, neglecting to buy professional indemnity insurance and exploiting workers; A lot of them offer jobs cash–in–hand to avoid the 17.5 per cent tax rate.

“This undercuts the legitimate, professional, hardworking builder who pays the 17.5 per cent and makes sure his employees pay national insurance, are properly trained and have protective clothing. The enforcement of existing legislation should stop this black economy without burdening employers with more paperwork.”

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said that the enforcement should ensure that it targets the right people.

“Many reputable businesses will welcome this enforcement,”

said REC head of public policy Anne Fairweather.

“The inspections need to have a risk based approach and they should make sure they don’t just go to the agencies on the high street that are mainly doing the right things while overlooking the people in the back rooms who are ignoring legislation. We’ll be working with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to ensure that maximum effect is had from its resources.”

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