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Action plan launched to end UK labour exploitation

A new report released today by Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX), sets out an action plan to end worker exploitation in the UK. The report details the risk of exploitation in the UK labour market, outlining the abuses suffered by workers that lead to more severe exploitation.

‘Risky Business: Tackling exploitation in the UK labour market’ proposes three key steps to end exploitation: enforce labour rights at work; ensure workers can report abuse and access information; and lead the fight to drive exploitation out of company supply chains.

FLEX’s Director Caroline Robinson said: “This report comes at a key time in the UK’s journey to tackle labour exploitation and modern slavery. Whilst much progress has been made, labour exploitation is still increasing in the UK labour market. This report, for the first time, sets out a roadmap to prevent labour exploitation in the UK through simple but important advances in labour market oversight.”

The report finds that the UK sits at the very bottom of the pile, compared to other European countries, when it comes to funding its labour inspection authorities. It shows the current UK system for enforcing workers’ rights to be deeply fragmented. It proposes solutions to strengthen labour inspectorates and prevent unscrupulous employers from getting away with exploiting vulnerable workers. Robinson added: “All workers deserve to be treated fairly and enjoy the full range of rights in the workplace. If employment rights are not enforced, they become meaningless, and labour abuse can easily develop into severe exploitation. A proactive and well-resourced labour inspection system is crucial to ensure vulnerable workers are protected in all labour sectors.”

An advance copy of the report was shared with the UK Director of Labour Market Enforcement (DLME), whose consultation on his first ever Labour Market Enforcement Strategy concluded last Friday. The DLME is expected to publish his strategy next year.