Labour promises to tackle exploitation by ‘rogue employment agencies’

26 November 2014

Ed Miliband has pledged to introduce new measures to clamp down on the practices of ‘cowboy employment agencies’ which he says operate ‘in the shadows of our economy and on the margins of the law’, the BBC reported earlier this week.

The Labour leader’s announcement drew upon recent figures which state that there has been a 36 per cent increase in the number of temporary agency workers compared with 2009. His speech particularly targeted the practices of recruiting exclusively from abroad, undercutting the wages of permanent staff and increasing zero-hour contracts. He said that these practices made the world of work ‘more brutal’ and undermined the idea that ‘hard work should be rewarded’.

The Guardian reported his three point plan which included measures to:

– ‘Close a legal loophole known as the Swedish derogation which allows employment agencies to pay agency workers a lower rate than permanent employees if they are paid between assignments. Labour says there is evidence that agency workers are sometimes paid the lower rate even when they work regular shifts.

– Ban employment agencies from recruiting exclusively from abroad.

– Force “rogue agencies” that exploit workers illegally to sign up to a licensing system. Authorities would have the power to revoke a licence if they are found guilty of misconduct.’