The Director of Labour Market Enforcement has today warned rogue employers he would be consulting on how to make full use of powers to jail the worst offenders. Sir David Metcalf was appointed in January 2017 to oversee a government crackdown on exploitation in the workplace by setting the strategic priorities for the government’s three enforcement agencies: HMRC’s National Minimum Wage (NMW) enforcement team, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS).

Publishing his introductory report, Sir David said he would work with the government’s enforcement bodies to:

  • better tackle illegal practices by implementing labour market enforcement undertakings and orders, which came into force in November 2016 and carry a maximum two-year prison sentence for serious or repeat offences
  • identify how best to ensure large employers’ supply chains do not breach labour market laws, particularly in the fashion, construction and cleaning sectors
  • review the effectiveness of current labour market enforcement efforts

Over the coming months Sir David will consult business and worker representatives, industry bodies and enforcement action groups ahead of publishing his first full labour market enforcement strategy later this year.

Sir David said: “Tackling labour market abuses is an important priority for the government and I am encouraged it has committed record funds to cracking down on exploitation.
“Over the coming months I will be working with government enforcement agencies and industry bodies to better identify and punish the most serious and repeat offenders taking advantage of vulnerable workers and honest businesses.”

The report is published alongside this year’s National Minimum and Living Wage enforcement statistics. The figures show in 2016/17 HMRC’s enforcement teams identified a record £10.9m in back pay for 98,150 of the UK’s lowest paid workers – a 69% increase on those helped last year. Businesses who failed to pay workers at least the legal minimum wage were also fined £3.9m, with employers in hospitality and retail sectors among the most prolific offenders.