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New workers’ watchdog announced by government

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

The government has confirmed  that a new workers’ watchdog will be created to protect the rights of UK workers. It will have responsibility for tackling modern slavery, enforcing the minimum wage and protecting agency workers. This will create a comprehensive new authority, which will ensure businesses that break the rules have nowhere to hide.

The new watchdog will also enhance workers’ rights by providing a single, recognisable port of call for workers so they know their rights and can blow the whistle on bad behaviour.

The body will support businesses to do the right thing by their employees by providing guidance on their obligations to staff. Meanwhile, increased enforcement will make sure good businesses aren’t undercut by unscrupulous rival employers who aren’t paying or treating their workers correctly.

The new watchdog body will be set up through primary legislation, “when parliamentary time allows”. For now, therefore, employers should take steps to audit, and if appropriate, remedy their current practices and keep a watching brief for developments on the watchdog’s progress.

The Government is also currently examining the next steps needed to tackle abuses in the garment industry. Options include creating a Garment Trade Adjudicator to investigate companies’ supply chains or introducing harsher measures which would ban goods made in factories where workers have been underpaid.

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