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Companies underpaying workers can expect to be inspected once every 500 years, parliamentary report reveals

November 21, 2017

Yesterday the Work and Pensions and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committees jointly called for the Government to get tough on unscrupulous employers who abuse workers. Their report reveals that at present, employers can expect an inspection once every 500 years, meaning that in practice businesses are able to get away with abuse. The DWP and BEIS Select Committees urge the Government to close loopholes that allow dubious and exploitative business practices, such as bogus self-employment, and calls for more resources to inspect workplaces to uncover abuse.

Welcoming the report, Focus on Labour Exploitation Director Caroline Robinson said:

“FLEX’s research has shown that the UK’s labour inspectorates are woefully underfunded, which means that they simply cannot be as proactive as they need to be in tackling abuse and exploitation. It is hugely positive that the joint Committee report has heeded our calls to invest in the labour inspection authorities that serve such an important role in preventing modern slavery, by finding and stamping out abuse early.”

The report calls for tougher penalties for offending employers, including high fines for those who take advantage of workers and seek to gain from illegal practices. Caroline Robinson said:

“We urgently need to shift the balance so that the risk of being caught out is greater than the possibility of gaining from abusing workers’ rights. At the moment there is little deterrent for unscrupulous employers and so when abuses go unchecked, the door is opened to severe exploitation. Tougher punishments for offending businesses would help protect workers by making sure that exploitation is just not worth the risk.”

Notes to editors:
– Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) works to end human trafficking for labour exploitation.
– See FLEX’s recent report Risky Business: Tackling Exploitation in the UK Labour Market for more information on the need for greater penalties and resources to tackle labour exploitation.