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NEW TARGETS SET TO PROTECT VULNERABLE WORKERS

NEW TARGETS SET TO PROTECT VULNERABLE WORKERS

New figures published today reveal that since April the Employment Agency Standards inspectorate (EAS) has won back nearly 200,000 in unpaid wages for agency workers. This is treble the amount clawed back in the previous year.

The latest figures came as EAS published new targets to ensure that vulnerable agency workers get even better protection after meeting or exceeding nearly all of its previous goals.

The body which regulates employment agencies set out how it would increase compliance with their regulations, improve their effectiveness and impact, and deliver good customer service.

The underlying targets agreed by EAS for 2010/11 include pledges to:

complete 80 per cent of investigations within six weeks of receiving a complaint (up from 75 per cent which was exceeded) and
submit 95 per cent of papers for potential prosecutions to Head Office within two months of legal advice (up from 90 per cent which was met).

Employment Relations Minister Lord Young said:

EAS has achieved some notable successes, recovering more money than ever for agency workers and increasing awareness of their work amongst employers as well as employees. I am confident they can build on this success.

The new targets demonstrate our commitment to more effective enforcement - protecting vulnerable agency workers and ensuring a level playing field for legitimate businesses.

Publication of the targets coincides with the latest meeting of the Fair Employment Enforcement Board (FEEB) which brings together Government, business groups, unions and Citizens Advice to ensure effective enforcement of the law.

The Boards work is based on raising awareness among vulnerable workers of their employment rights, simplifying access to the enforcement of those rights, and greater joint working between the enforcement agencies.

Since first meeting in October 2008 18 months ago FEEB has overseen:

the launch of a single enforcement Pay and Work Rights helpline to report cases of mistreatment
a significant and sustained campaign to raise workers awareness of their basic employment rights
a campaign by the Employment Agency Standards inspectorate (EAS) to inform agency workers of their rights and
the latest round of the Union Modernisation Fund focussed on projects for unions to improve their ability to help vulnerable workers.

The Board leads the fight to protect vulnerable workers from the minority of unscrupulous employers who exploit their staff and undercut their competitors.

Citizens Advice chief executive David Harker said:

"The various initiatives overseen by FEEB are making life ever harder for rogue employers seeking to profit from the exploitation of vulnerable workers. That is good news not just for workers, but also for taxpayers and the great majority of employers who abide by the law."

Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary said:

The work overseen by the FEEB has led to more effective and better co-ordinated enforcement of basic employment rights and better protection of vulnerable workers.

The TUC also welcomes the increase in unpaid wages recovered for agency workers by EAS, and the new improved targets for investigations. They are significant steps in tackling the abuses faced by agency workers. It is important there are on-going improvements in the coming year so that all vulnerable agency workers will be guaranteed their rights at work.

Anne Fairweather, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) Head of Public Policy, said:

"The REC has consistently called for the effective enforcement of current regulations to address the activities of rogue providers who undercut legitimate agencies. We welcome the fact that EAS is having an impact and we will continue to build links with the REC's own assessment officers.

EAS can continue to enhance its effectiveness through a targeted approach to inspections and by continuing to work in partnership with the recruitment industry."

Mission
The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate's (EAS) mission is to work with agencies, employers and workers to ensure compliance with employment rights, particularly for vulnerable agency workers.
Objective one - to increase compliance with the EAS regulations
increase compliance with the regulations from 2009/10 level, such as through a reduction in the number of repeat offenders
continue to use EAS interventions to recover the maximum possible pay for workers
deliver and publicise seven large-scale risk-based investigations
maximise publicity for prosecutions and prohibitions
Measures
EAS Annual Report 2010/11 (compared with 2009/10)
number of press notices
feedback from the Fair Employment Enforcement Board and industry stakeholders
Objective two - to improve EASs effectiveness and impact
improve targeting of rogue businesses by implementing the recommendations from the EAS Hampton Review 2009
increase joint working with other enforcement bodies (particularly HMRCs National Minimum Wage inspectors and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority)
each inspector to participate in at least one awareness-raising event per year
work closely with industry bodies to develop better guidance for employment agencies on their legal obligations and raise awareness of the regulations
Measures
EAS Annual Report 2010/11 (compared with 2009/10)
feedback from the Better Regulation Executive and other workplace enforcement bodies
staff reports
Objective three - to deliver good customer service
positive feedback from employment agencies, employment businesses and from workers on EASs performance
90% of the complex queries passed to EAS by the Pay and Work Rights helpline receive a response within 7 working days
complete 80% of investigations (including issuing any warning letters) within 6 weeks of complaint being passed to EAS
papers for 95% of potential prosecutions / prohibitions submitted to HQ inspections manager within 2 months of advice from BIS Legal
appropriate requests from other enforcement agencies met on time
continue to develop the expertise and professionalism of EAS staff by matching training to needs
Ministerial, public and Freedom of Information correspondence deadlines met on time
Measures
EAS Annual Report 2010/11 (compared with 2009/10)
staff reports
customer satisfaction surveys

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