Enforcement of Workplace Rights – Consultation on information sharing by enforcement bodiesThursday, October 22nd, 2009
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has published a new consultation document giving proposals for information sharing between the various bodies that are responsible in law for the enforcement of employment rights.
Enforcement responsibilities are split between a number of different departments and agencies. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), for example, enforces the national minimum wage (NMW) on behalf of BIS; the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforces aspects of the Working Time Regulations; the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS) enforces agency regulation.
The Government’s Vulnerable Worker Enforcement Forum, in a report published in August 2008, examined the effectiveness of the enforcement framework and identified possible improvements. Weaknesses identified included legal restrictions on the extent to which officers responsible for enforcing workplace rights can share relevant information obtained in the course of exercising their powers with each other.
In the consultation document, BIS proposes making a Legislative Reform Order to amend the Working Time Regulations 1998, the Employment Agencies Act 1973, the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, and the Agricultural Wages Act 1948 to:
- permit officers responsible for enforcing the NMW, the agricultural minimum wage and employment agency regulations to supply information to the HSE and the other enforcement bodies responsible for enforcing the Working Time Regulations;
- permit officers responsible for the enforcement of the agricultural minimum wage and those responsible for enforcing employment agency regulations to supply information to each other;
- permit HMRC, EAS and the bodies responsible for enforcing Working Time Regulations to provide advice to the Gangmasters Licensing Authority on the suitability of applicants for a licence in circumstances where a person is not already acting as a gangmaster; and
- permit officers responsible for enforcing employment agency regulations to supply information to the bodies responsible for regulating the care and children’s care sectors such as the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted.
Feedback is sought from the various agencies themselves and other parties, such as advice bodies, unions, business and business representative organisations, who have an interest in the protection of vulnerable workers. Subject to the outcome of the public consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny, BIS hopes to implement the changes from 6 April 2010.
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