Two consultations have been published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills focused squarely on reforming recruitment sector legislation and tackling exploitation in the UK labour market.
Recruitment companies who recruit solely from overseas without advertising in Great Britain and in English will be prevented from doing so under plans announced by Business Secretary Sajid Javid. The Government will also consult on introducing a new criminal offence designed to tackle unscrupulous employers who subject vulnerable migrant workers to illegal working conditions and rates of pay.
Javid commented: “To ignore the pool of talent in the UK wastes the potential of British people who want the dignity of a job and the security of a pay cheque. This one nation Government is committed to making sure our economy delivers for people who want to work hard and get on in life. We will also protect migrant workers who are duped into working in the UK and then exploited by rogue businesses. Their unscrupulous practices undercut firms who play by the rules.”
Minister for Immigration James Brokenshire said: “We will make Britain a fairer and safer place for employees by introducing new and improved protections for workers. A new Director of Labour Market Enforcement and reforms to the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) send a clear message that we’re committed to protecting employees and bringing rogue operators to justice. I want to send a clear message to workers. We will pass new laws to protect you, and we will enforce them.”
The recruitment sector plays an important role in ensuring the labour market works effectively by helping people to find permanent and temporary work. These proposed changes strike a balance between removing burdens on employment agencies and retaining important protections for people who are looking for work. This includes stopping recruitment firms recruiting solely from other European Economic Area countries.
The labour market consultation includes four proposals to build on the effectiveness of the current regime:
*a new offence of aggravated breach of labour market legislation for the worst offenders
*police-style powers and a wider remit for the GLA to enable it to tackle serious exploitation
*a new Director of Labour Market Enforcement who will set priorities across enforcement bodies dealing with everything from criminal activity to payroll errors
*increased intelligence and data sharing between the existing enforcement bodies and also other bodies such as the National Crime Agency, police forces and local authorities in order to increase the targeting of enforcement
Breaches of labour law
The new offence will target those employers who deliberately, persistently and brazenly commit breaches of labour law and then fail to take the required remedial action. Being found guilty could lead to a custodial sentence.
A reformed GLA will investigate the exploitation of all workers, whether employed through an agency or a direct employer. Trained staff will be able to use police-style powers such that they can seek and use search warrants to secure crucial evidence.
Regulation 27A of the Conduct Regulations, which came into force in January this year, already requires employment agencies and employment businesses in Great Britain, if they are advertising a vacancy for a job based here, to advertise it in Great Britain and in English either before or at the same time as advertising it in another European Economic Area country.
The Government now wishes to take this further by reducing the scope for employment agencies and employment businesses to fill vacancies here with people from overseas without any advertising. The Government is proposing that those employment agencies and employment businesses that recruit overseas, for work in Great Britain, would be required to advertise in Great Britain and in English, either at the same time or in the 28 days prior to any overseas recruitment activity.
Employers who want to recruit from outside of the European Economic Area need to comply with the Resident Labour Market Test. This requires employers to advertise a position in two UK publications for 28 days and provide evidence to UK Visas and Immigration that this requirement was met and yielded no suitable candidate.