Plans to tackle exploitation don't go far enough

The Government has set out new plans to tackle exploitation in the labour market but we think this is an opportunity missed.

The proposals are to bring in a new Director of Labour Market Enforcement who will oversee efforts to tackle offenders exploiting others, to expand the role of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority and create more offences to catch employers who treat their workers badly. You can read the Government's proposals here.

We welcome the intention to do more to address exploitation. However we are concerned about a lack of detail in these proposals and not enough explanation about why existing enforcement tools are not being used to full effect before new ones are introduced.

The Government has also focused on measures that go over the heads of individuals. The consultation makes no mention of areas that will give individuals agency to leave a situation where they are enslaved, or seek justice for wrongs done.

The Government should take this chance to change measures already in place that prevent victims of exploitation living free and fair lives, for example, removing the "tied visa" for domestic workers, abolishing regulations that prevent claims for more than 2 years worth of unpaid wages in the Employment Tribunal and ensuring all victims have easy access to legal aid to get free advice on their options.

If you would like more detail please read our submission to the Government consultation here, and our attached response to the Low Pay Commission on the issue of the Living Wage.

For more background you might also like to read the responses of the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association (ILPA) here and Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) here.