Tackling exploitation in the labour market: government launches consultation

The government seeks views on how to protect workers from exploitation and improve the enforcement of employment rights. The emphasis is on tackling more organised criminal activity (such as the abuse of unskilled migrant workers) rather than individual breaches of employment legislation.

The main proposals include:

  • creating a statutory Director of Labour Market Enforcement;
  • introducing a new offence of aggravated breach of labour market legislation;
  • improving intelligence and data-sharing between enforcement bodies; and
  • expanding the remit of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to allow it to deal with serious exploitation.

You can respond until 9 November here.

Ongoing enquiry into Employment Tribunal fees: written submissions published 

The House of Commons Justice Select Committee has published the written evidence submitted to its inquiry into courts and tribunal fees. Among the submissions are suggestions for reform from the President and Regional Employment Judges of the Employment Tribunals. These include requiring respondents to pay response fees and hearing fees (as already happens in the Scottish civil courts), discounts for online submission, email correspondence and 'paper only' hearings, and introducing three tiers of fees instead of two.

Many other respondents, including the TUC, want the fee system abolished entirely, arguing that the substantial decrease in employment tribunal claims shows that the introduction of fees has greatly reduced access to justice. 

Trade union bill update: first committee sitting

On 13 October the first committee sitting of the Trade Union Bill 2015-2016 took place. The committee heard evidence from various experts and interest groups including the Confederation of British Industry, USDAW, Thompsons Solicitors and Amnesty. The second sitting is on 15 October with a view to the committee stage concluding by 27 October 2015. 

Government plans to reform regulation of recruitment agencies and force them to advertise in Britain

The government is seeking views on reform of the legislation regulating employment agencies and employment businesses. The intention is to keep regulations protecting work-seekers, but remove some business to business regulation and simplify the legislation where possible. They also propose to ban employment agencies and businesses from recruiting solely from other EEA countries without advertising in Great Britain.

The consultation is open until 23 November 2015, and the government will publish its response by 15 February 2016. Respond here.