On 16 July 2019 as part of a raft of announcements, outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May launched a consultation ‘seeking views on options for establishing a single enforcement body to improve enforcement of employment rights for workers and businesses’. This is all part of the UK Government’s plans to implement recommendations from Matthew Taylor’s 2017 Review of Modern Working Practices, as per commitments in its 2018 Good Work Plan.
Entitled ‘Good Work Plan: establishing a new single enforcement body for employment rights’, this consultation produced jointly between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Home Office discusses whether the creation of a single enforcement body for employment rights could:
- Improve enforcement for vulnerable workers and
- Create a level playing field for the majority of businesses who are complying with the law
The potential for a new single labour market enforcement body will affect both HR and payroll professionals.
This is interesting. There are a number of things that are UK-wide policies but are subject to different legislation and different enforcement bodies. This is the result of devolution. Then it mentions the likes of ACAS and legislation that only applies in Great Britain.
It is very confusing and, therefore, it looks as though this single enforcement body could only have a UK-wide remit for some things.
The Current Enforcement Bodies
Before discussing the proposals and the point of the consultation, it is worth looking at the enforcement bodies that currently exist. When analysed like this, it does put the consultation into perspective:
|National Minimum and National Living Wages||HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) enforcing BEIS policy||UK-wide|
|Labour Exploitation and modern slavery re workers||Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA)||England and Wales|
|Gangmasters licensing scheme for suppliers of labour in high risk sectors in agriculture and the fresh food supply chain||Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA)||UK-wide|
|Employment agencies and employment businesses||Health and Safety Executive (HSE)||Great Britain|
|Health and safety at work (lower risk sectors)||Local Authorities||UK-wide|
|Statutory payments (SMP etc)||HMRC on behalf of the DWP||UK-wide|
|Discriminatory practices in recruitment and employment||Equality and Human Rights Commission||Great Britain|
As the consultation quite rightly points out, for both employers and individuals, the enforcement landscape is ‘deeply fragmented’. This must apply to the civil servants working in these departments and bodies.
A Single Body
Therefore, in light of the fragmentation and as a ‘logical step’ to protect vulnerable workers and employers, the consultation explores whether there is a need for a single enforcement body that would:
- Extend state enforcement, delivering commitments to enforce holiday pay for vulnerable workers and regulate umbrella companies
- Create a strong, recognisable single brand so individuals know where to go for help
- Provide better support for businesses who want to comply with the rules, including coordinated guidance and communications campaigns
- Allow ‘pooled intelligence’ to provide a more comprehensive picture of the labour market as a whole,
- Use resources effectively with the ability to flex resource across a single large workforce to respond to shifting priorities and greater opportunities for combined enforcement activity
- Allow coordinated enforcement action, with new powers and sanctions
- Allow closer working with other enforcement partners, for example the police, immigration and the Pensions Regulator
A Long Read
There is no doubt that this is a long consultation, separated into the following sections:
- Reforming the current system (Chapter 1)
- Its relationship with other areas of enforcement (Chapter 2). This is an important area for HR and payroll professionals
- The approach to enforcement (Chapter 3), i.e. whether it should focus on both compliance and deterrence
- The powers and sanctions (Chapter 4). This looks at the current powers and sanctions (penalties) and the proposed ones
There are three ways to respond but all methods close on 06 October 2019:
Probably the easiest, using the Consultation Hub.
Labour Market Directorate
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
1st Floor, Spur 2
1 Victoria Street