A promise to make best use of the 2-year prison sentence introduced with a package of enforcement measures last November for serious or repeat offences, was made by the Director of Labour Market Enforcement, Sir David Metcalf, at the launch of the first major report since his appointment in January.

In addition to warning rogue employers that he would be consulting to ascertain how best to use his powers to jail the worst of them, Sir David also promised to focus on

  • identifying how best to ensure large employers’ supply chains do not breach labour market laws, particularly in the fashion, construction and cleaning sectors
  • reviewing the effectiveness of current labour market enforcement efforts

‘Labour Market Enforcement Strategy: introductory report’ sets out the current state of play of the three enforcement bodies for which Sir David has been working to establish strategic priorities

  • HMRC’s National Minimum Wage (NMW) enforcement team
  • Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA)
  • Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS)

He will be consulting business and worker representatives before publishing his first full strategy for the three organisations later this year.

NMW Enforcement

The latest NMW enforcement statistics were published alongside Sir David’s introductory report as part of ‘National minimum wage: government evidence to the Low Pay Commission on compliance and enforcement, 2017’.

They showed that in 2016/17, HMRC’s enforcement teams identified a a record £10.9 million in back pay for 98,150 of the UK’s lowest paid workers – a 69% increase on those helped last year.

Businesses who failed to pay workers at least the legal minimum wage were fined £3.9 million, with employers in hospitality and retail sectors among the most prolific offenders.