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Bad bosses to face jail time

Posted by: Ian Piper


Sir David Metcalfe, who was appointed director of labour market enforcement in January this year, has launched a crackdown on bosses who repeatedly exploit their workers.

Following high profile cases such as Mike Ashley of Sports Direct and Sir Phillip Green of BHS, Metcalfe’s proposals of jail sentences for individuals who exploit vulnerable workers and honest businesses have been welcomed.

Metcalfe plans to focus on using labour market enforcement undertakings and orders, which came into play in November 2016 and carry a prison sentence of up to two years for serious or repeat offenders. Business Minster Margot James has commented “While the majority of employers create a fair and safe environment for their workers, there are a small minority of rouge employers who break the law and we will use all enforcement measures at our disposal to crack down on labour market abuses.”

These proposals have come alongside this year’s national minimum wage and living wage enforcement statistics. The figures have shown an increase of 69% of underpayments to employees totalling £10.9 million for 98,150 of the UK’s lowest paid workers.

The increase could be linked to the introduction of the National Living Wage in April 2016 and this is a good time for employers to be checking that they are meeting these new minimum requirements.

Businesses that failed to pay at least the minimum wage have also been fined a total of £3.9 million, with the hospitality and retail sectors the most prolific offenders.

Metcalfe also plans to consider the workings of supply chains as a whole and how they can be made to comply more rigorously to employment laws, especially within the fashion, cleaning and construction sectors. One suggestion is by making the firm at the top jointly responsible for the rest of the links in the chain, much like the laws in the US.

Metcalfe’s commitment to stamp out non- compliance and tackle labour market abuses is a severe warning to bosses who believe that they can carry out rouge business practices at the expense of their workers.

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