// Gov’t to create a new watchdog to protect workers’ rights & clamp down on workplace abuse across all industries, including retail
// It will provide a port of call for workers so they know their rights & can whistleblow on bad behaviour
// It will also provide guidance to businesses on their obligations to staff
The UK Government has announced it will create a new watchdog to protect the rights of workers and clamp down on workplace abuse across all industries, including retail.
Responsibility for tackling modern slavery, enforcing the minimum wage and protecting agency workers, which are currently spread across three different bodies, will all be brought under one roof.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said this approach would help improve enforcement through better co-ordination and pooling intelligence.
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The body will provide a port of call for workers so they know their rights and can whistleblow on bad behaviour, while providing guidance to businesses on their obligations to staff.
Current plans will see the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and HMRC’s National Minimum Wage Enforcement combined to create a single enforcement body.
The new body, confirmed in a consultation response on Tuesday, will also be able to ensure vulnerable workers can get the holiday pay and statutory sick pay they are entitled to.
“The vast majority of businesses want to do right by their staff, but there are a minority who seem to think the law doesn’t apply to them,” business minister Paul Scully, said.
“Exploitative practices like modern slavery have no place in society.
“This new workers’ watchdog will help us crack down on any abuses of workers’ rights and take action against companies that turn a blind eye to abuses in their supply chains, while providing a one-stop shop for employees and businesses wanting to understand their rights and obligations.”
BEIS said the government would also explore further measures to target abuses in the garment sector amid scrutiny of the industry following revelations about the conditions for workers.
Options currently being considered include creating a Garment Trade Adjudicator to investigate retailers’ and fashion brands’ supply chains, or extending the licencing scheme that currently covers employers in the agricultural sector.
Harsher measures for companies which do not improve could include bans on goods made in factories where workers have been underpaid, BEIS added.
with PA Wires