UK Government

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: Strengthened EAS Delivers on Protection for Vulnerable Agency Workers

Press Release   •   Dec 03, 2009 11:21 GMT

The Employment Relations Minister, Lord Young, welcomed the publication of the latest Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS) Annual Report which shows the regulator has continued to provide a valuable service for vulnerable agency workers.

Highlights from the Annual Report include:

  • The Inspectorate recovered more than double the amount of pay for workers in 2008/9 (£63,341) than it did in the previous year (£26,000);
  • A doubling in the number of EAS inspectors;
  • A £1.2m campaign to raise awareness of employment rights among vulnerable agency workers which more than tripled the number of calls from workers and employers to the EAS helpline;
  • New powers giving EAS access through the courts to unlimited fines for certain offences

New figures published today also reveal that since April EAS have won back over £150,000 in unpaid wages for agency workers – already more than double the amount clawed back in the period covered by the Annual Report.

Lord Young said:

“EAS has made good progress this year but has more to do to fulfil its potential. They have recovered more money than ever for agency workers and the new inspectors have made an effective contribution. We remain firmly committed to protecting vulnerable agency workers from exploitation and protecting legitimate employment agencies from being undercut by rogues”.

Publication of the Annual Report coincided with the latest round of targeted inspections by EAS. This saw 18 employment agencies visited in Portsmouth and 13 of them issued with warnings for failing to comply with the law.

A total of 48 breaches were found, including:

 

  • Failure to agree terms with the work seeker and hirer;
  • Not providing sufficient information to the hirer about the work seeker and vice versa;
  • Not obtaining all the necessary information required from the hirer before seeking to fill a position

Follow up investigations will take place to make sure that the agencies concerned have acted to change their ways. Agencies that continue to disobey the law could be prosecuted, hit hard with unlimited fines or even banned from operating for up to 10 years.

This year has also seen EAS working more closely with other enforcement bodies, including building on the existing relationship with the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). A number of joint GLA and EAS inspections and investigations have taken place.

Businesses who supply agency workers can find information on their legal obligations at www.businesslink.gov.uk/employmentagencies or by calling the Pay and Work Rights helpline on 0800 917 2368.

Notes to editors

1) The EAS Annual Report covers the period from April 2008 to March 2009.

2) The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The Inspectorate carries out inspections of agencies on the basis of perceived risk of non-compliance and investigates complaints about agency conduct. To find out more about the EAS, please visit http://www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/employment/employment-agencies/index.html

3) Agency workers can find out more about the rights they are entitled to by visiting www.direct.gov.uk/agencyworkers or by calling the Pay and Work Rights helpline on 0800 917 2368.

4) For legal reasons, the Department for Business cannot name the agencies warned, unless they are prosecuted or prohibited.

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future.

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