As many jobbing Umbrella Company Employees will be aware, the regulatory landscape for recruitment in the UK is undergoing change. Jo Swinson, parliamentary under secretary of state for employment relations and consumer affairs, has now issued a written statement outlining plans to introduce a new, simplified framework in place of the Employment Agencies Act 1973 and the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Regulations 2003.

The Employment Agency Standards (EAS) inspectorate will now be relocated from its current base in BIS to HMRC’s national minimum wage (NMW) team, where it will become part of a new Revenue team focussing primarily on recruitment sector organisations that fail to pay the national minimum wage.

Ms Swinson went on to state that the new team would help to protect the most vulnerable workers and “create a level playing field for the vast majority of agencies who play by the rules.” BIS will, however, retain a small team to enforce recruitment sector regulations, she added, with complaints prioritised according to a risk-based approach. Resourcing will be kept under review.

Tom Hadley, director of policy at the REC, responded positively to Ms Swinson’s statement, saying: “We are pleased that the government has listened to industry concerns, which were backed by other organisations including the TUC, and is maintaining an enforcement apparatus. The original intention was to rely solely on tribunals. Today’s announcement explicitly recognises the fact that effective enforcement is crucial in order to protect the interests of workers and ensure a level playing field for law abiding businesses in our sector.”

Mr Hadley warned, however, that the new structure “must be implemented effectively” to guarantee that all complaints will be properly investigated.

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