UK Government

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (National): Employment agency crackdown in Devon

Press Release   •   Feb 14, 2011 11:01 GMT

Employment agency enforcement teams have completed a series of operations in the Exeter region, carrying out 39 visits on the 25 and 26 January 2011.

Investigators from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ Employment Agency Standards inspectorate (EAS) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Custom’s (HMRC) National Minimum Wage (NMW) enforcement team took part in the two-day operation following the success of their joint working operation in Leicester.

During the course of the inspections, over 108 breaches of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 were identified. NMW investigators also identified potential breaches of the minimum wage and will follow these up with the agencies involved.

Minister for Employment Relations Edward Davey said:

“I am delighted to see the success of this operation and endorse this joint approach by the enforcement bodies. I am certain the advice and guidance given on these visits ensures that agencies that are reputable become compliant, while those who choose to ignore this advice are aware they could be subject to legal proceedings.”

“It is important that all employment agencies abide by the law. We must make sure that we protect agency workers and create a level playing field for that vast majority of agencies who play by the rules.”

The decision to target Exeter was based on EAS risk assessment data and intelligence obtained by HMRC’s new Dynamic Response Team – a geographically flexible team that has been put together to target NMW ‘hot spots’ and lead on large and complex NMW cases.

Given the success of this second operation, both EAS and NMW will continue to look at other potential areas to target for future joint operations.

Notes for Editors:

  1. This was the second of what could be a number of focused targeted inspections jointly carried out by EAS and NMW.
  2. Employment businesses supply workers to other employers, either directly or through a 3rd party. Where the business was responsible for paying worker’s directly, checks were made to ensure that they had paid workers for all hours worked. Where the business had contracted payroll service out to a 3rd party, such as an Umbrella or payroll company, checks were made to ensure that the workers had received proper notification. In both instances, checks were made to ensure that workers were being paid at or above the National Minimum Wage.
  3. New regulations that protect workers came into force on 1 October 2010, which tighten the restrictions on the charging of up-front fees in the entertainment and modelling sectors. More information on the changes to the Regulations can be found on the DirectGov website at:
  4. Changes to the National Minimum Wage rates came into force on the 1 October. More information for businesses and workers can be found at:
  5. Agencies that break the law can face prosecution and courts may impose unlimited fines for the most serious offences. Rogue agencies can also be banned from operating for up to ten years. A current list of prohibited persons is available on the EAS website.
  6. Anyone with a complaint about an employment agency or business or not being paid the National Minimum wage can call the Pay and Work Rights helpline on 0800 917 2368.
  7. BIS' online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See for more information.


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