Any breach of workers rights laws can now be reported at the click of a button, following the rolling out of a new online form.
Workers who have their rights infringed can use the form to report employers when they fail to comply with their obligations in respect of the national minimum wage (“NMW”), working time, employment agencies or gangmasters.
Whilst some employment law claims may be brought by workers themselves in the employment tribunal or civil courts, government departments can also take action to enforce certain rights and obligations:
National Minimum Wage
For example, if an employer does not pay a worker the NMW (currently £7.50 per hour for workers aged 25 or older) then Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) can enforce the worker’s entitlement by issuing a notice of underpayment or suing on the worker’s behalf.
If the employer has refused or wilfully neglected to pay the worker’s NMW entitlement, the employer may also be guilty of a criminal offence.
Working Time Regulations
Rights for individual workers to place limits on their working time and to entitle them to rest breaks and leave are provided in the Working Time Regulations (WTR).
Duties are imposed on employers to ensure that the workforce works appropriate hours with sufficient rest, such as the duty to take reasonable steps to ensure that the workforce is complying with the 48-hour week requirement, and a duty to keep records to show the obligations under the WTR are being satisfied.
Whilst no cause of action exists which will entitle a worker to bring a claim against an employer for breach of the WTR, the matter may be referred to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
The HSE may then bring a claim against the employer and issue fines for breaches of the WTR.
The Employment Agencies Act 1973 (EAA) and The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations 2003 (CEAEBR) are enforced by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS).
EAS Inspectors may enter premises which they believe are used for employment agency purposes and examine records and documents kept in accordance with the EAA or CEAEBR.
In the event that an inspection reveals a breach, a warning letter may be issued to the agency or business advising it of breaches and any necessary corrective steps, and a follow-up inspection may occur.
Prohibition orders may also be made by an employment tribunal on an application by the Secretary of State.
The agency or business may also be prosecuted, with fines of up to £5,000 payable if tried as a summary offence in the magistrates’ court, or an unlimited fine if tried in the crown court.
Persons guilty of obstructing an offer in carrying out her or his duties will be liable for a fine of up to £1,000.