Vulnerable worker enforcement forum


Since 1997, a fair framework of basic workplace rights has been put in place, including rights to a minimum wage and paid leave, and the right not to have to work more than 48 hours a week on average. The key challenge now is to ensure that all workers – particularly vulnerable workers – benefit from these rights.

The employment strategy paper, Success at Work, published in March 2006 committed Government to protecting vulnerable workers and tackling non-compliant employers.

As part of this work, a Vulnerable Worker Enforcement Forum has been established. Chaired by the Employment Relations Minister, Pat McFadden, it brings together front line unions, workplace enforcement agencies, business groups and advice bodies to look at evidence about the nature and extent of abuse of workplace rights. It is also looking at whether abuses are being tackled effectively through existing enforcement and support mechanisms and whether improvements, or new approaches are needed to raise compliance without increasing burdens for good employers.

The following organisations are members of the Forum:

Small business (Scott Johnson from WF Watt)
Citizens Advice
Gangmasters Licensing Authority
HM Revenue and Customs (for National Minimum Wage enforcement)
Health and Safety Executive
Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate

The Forum met for the first time on 21 June 2007. It is expected to conclude its work in Summer 2008. It meets approximately monthly.

Anyone else with evidence of abuse of workplace rights is invited to send it to so that it can be considered alongside the evidence from unions and employers, and the experiences of the front line enforcement agencies. Specific examples are particularly helpful, along with any hard evidence about the scale of the problem, why the workers affected are vulnerable, and why (where this is the case) they are not seeking redress.

Respondents should indicate whether this evidence should be treated on a confidential basis.

Workers should not use this mailbox for help or advice with a specific workplace problem. Instead, they should contact one of the organisations listed in the Working in the UK: know your rights and where to get help and advice leaflet (see Related documents).