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Independent enforcement needed to crack down on bad employers

20 June 2017

An independent government inspector to enforce workplace rights is needed to stop poor employers breaking employment laws and exploiting staff, the Law Society of England and Wales said today.

The Law Society's recommendations to Matthew Taylor's government-commissioned review of employment practices would see government inspectors able to enter a workplace and determine whether staff are employees, workers, or independent contractors.

"Our rights at work are not optional - they are the minimum standard to which we are entitled," said Law Society president Robert Bourns.

"When there is a dispute our law relies on individuals taking their employer to court to get their rights recognised - a task that is simply beyond most people. Bad employers know this, and take advantage of it to cut corners and underpay people, knowing they'll probably get away with it.

"An independent government inspector who can go into a business to ensure staff are being given their proper workplace rights will help put a stop to this exploitation, and put everyone on a fair and even playing field."

The recommendation is one of three key calls made by the Law Society, designed to ensure that employment laws are clear and work well in light of changing employment practices and an increasing tendency to treat people as independent contractors.

The Society has also called for employment statuses and rights to be clearly defined in a single piece of law, and for large employers to report publicly on their employment practices.

"New ways of working are bringing opportunities, but employment law must keep up with these changes if rights provided by parliament are not to be ignored and overridden," said Robert Bourns.

"Matthew Taylor's review is a timely point to update our employment laws, and ensure they serve everyone well.

"Our recommendations are carefully designed to create better employment laws that support improved working practices, enabling employers to create the thriving economy that we all want to see, without ignoring the rights of some of the most vulnerable in society."

Notes to editors

View the Law Society's full recommendations

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

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