Rooting out the rogues
Why vulnerable workers and good employers need a 'fair employment commission'
Whilst the vast majority of employers try hard to meet their legal obligations to their workforce, there are still far too many unscrupulous or rogue employers (and employment agencies) prepared to flout the law and so profit from exploitation. As a result, many tens of thousands of the most vulnerable workers from the newly expanded European Union and elsewhere - are failing to benefit from the Government's very welcome policy programme since 1997 to establish a framework of decent standards in the workplace.
And they are not the only losers. The activity of their deliberately exploitative employers - including, in some cases, the non-payment of tax and national insurance - puts good employers at a competitive disadvantage, eventually forcing some to cut corners themselves or risk going out of business. And, when they do so, even more workers lose out.
Yet, all too often, such exploited workers are too fearful of victimisation or dismissal to raise a grievance and bring an Employment Tribunal claim - the principal method of enforcing most statutory workplace rights. As a result, unscrupulous or rogue employers can profit from exploitation with near impunity.
This briefing forms the joint submission of Citizens Advice and Citizens Advice Scotland to the TUC's Commission on Vulnerable Employment. We argue that it is time for the Government to give exploited workers somewhere to turn, through the creation of a 'fair employment commission' with the legal powers and resources both to secure individual vulnerable workers their rights, and to root out the rogues.