Committee publishes report on UK labour market
The report finds that workers are vulnerable to unscrupulous employers
The House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee published its final report on the UK labour market post-pandemic on 21 April, which recommends that the government create a single workers’ rights watchdog to address weak enforcement that is leaving workers vulnerable to ‘unscrupulous’ employers.
The inquiry, which launched in May 2022, was aimed at ascertaining whether the UK labour market post-pandemic has enough workers, with the right skills, and in the right places. The Committee looked specifically, among other things, at artificial intelligence (AI) and automation and what such new technologies might mean for the workplace of the future.
Among the recommendations to government, the final report states that a taskforce of relevant enforcement bodies should be established, alongside the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation and the Trades Union Congress, to assess the implications of technology in the workplace, to consider whether enforcement of labour laws is effective, and to make recommendations on whether further legislation is required.
The Committee has also requested that the government provide an update on its thinking in relation to the use of computer evidence in criminal and/or civil proceedings and to prioritise this area of work at the Law Commission.
The report highlights that following hearings with large employers, including British Gas, P&O Ferries and Amazon, the Committee found enforcement to be under-resourced and fragmented across a number of small agencies. Evidence provided to the inquiry included that many workers do not know their rights and that the UK has less than half the number of labour inspectors needed to reach international benchmarks.
Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, Darren Jones, said, “Weak or absent enforcement means workers can be exposed to exploitative practices without any consequence, rendering their rights worthless. Regulatory bodies are doing the best they can with what they have but the Government really must get a move on and create the single enforcement body promised back in 2019. A one stop shop for workers and businesses would provide the clarity, security and effective oversight that is needed.”