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December 5, 2011

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Guide offers exploited workers advice on rights

The TUC has published a guide to raise awareness about employees’’ rights in the workplace, following concerns that rogue employers are exploiting thousands of workers across the UK.
The booklet, which was funded by the TUC’s Union Modernisation Fund (UMF), is titled Enforcing Basic Workplace Rights and is aimed at union officials and reps. It also outlines the role that the UK’s four major statutory enforcement agencies – the HMRC Minimum Wage enforcement team, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, and the HSE – play in enforcing these rights.
The TUC believes that more than 150,000 workers are not being paid the minimum wage, and the guide gives details on how enforcement agencies can help these workers challenge their employer. It also gives contact information for the government’s Pay and Work Rights helpline, which is a confidential service that provides advice on basic employment rights.
The guide was published to coincide with the UMF dissemination conference in London, which took place on 2 December at the TUC’s headquarters and discussed ways of protecting workers from rogue employers. One of the speakers at the event was TUC deputy secretary, Frances O’Grady, who believes tackling vulnerable employment is a major concern for unions.

Mr O’Grady said: “With the labour market struggling to recover from the recession and increasing numbers of those in work facing temporary and insecure employment, action to improve job quality for low-paid workers is as urgent as ever.

“Workers in low-paid sectors such as care, cleaning, hospitality, security and construction can find themselves working excessively long hours, sometimes with no contract of employment. Their work can be insecure and they are regularly paid below the minimum wage.

“The conference gave MPs, policy-makers, community organisations, union reps and researchers the opportunity to hear first-hand from unions who have been actively engaged in tackling vulnerable employment.”

The Enforcing Basic Workplace Rights guide can be downloaded for free from the TUC website.

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