27/02/2009

Agency Workers Campaign Brings Real Help

Help for agency workers is high on the agenda for the second meeting of the Fair Employment Enforcement Board.

The Board brings together businesses, unions and the government to monitor and direct efforts to protect vulnerable workers, including a £1 million campaign to raise awareness of agency workers' rights.

Other issues for the Board include the delivery of a single enforcement helpline where all cases of worker mistreatment can be reported, as well as an update on enforcement activity against rogue employers.

Employment Relations Minister Pat McFadden said: "Workers in the UK are better protected than before, but we are working hard to make sure that everyone's rights are respected.

"We know that some agency workers don't know their rights and some don't know where to report potential abuses. That's why the government is spending £1m to inform agency workers of their rights, and where to go for help and advice."

He added: "Most employment agencies play by the rules but where that's not the case, we don't want to see people short changed."

As well as a high-profile poster campaign, the Minister has written to more than 13,000 employment agencies to outline how they can make sure they are complying with the law.

This is complementing the work of the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS), which recently doubled in size and extended its investigative power.

In the last three months of 2008, a total of 223 warnings were issued to employers found to be breaking the law.

Large-scale EAS crackdowns were carried out in Corby in October, Plymouth in November and in the construction sector across the UK in December.

Across the three crackdowns, 88 agencies were inspected, with 315 breaches found across 65 of them, who all received warnings.

The government also secured compensation for five West Midlands entertainers ripped off by a rogue agent.

(JM/BMcC)

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