After the disappointing absence of any employment measures from the Queen's Speech at the start of May, there are signs that the government is slowly turning its attention to the world of work again. Yesterday saw the announcement that the government will go ahead with forming a single labour market enforcement body following a consultation back in July 2019. The new body will combine the existing Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and HMRC's National Minimum Wage enforcement team with a view to it tackling modern slavery, national minimum wage breaches and ensuring workers get the statutory holiday and sick pay they are entitled to. The aim is that this new body will support employers through guidance on best practice and improve enforcement of workers' rights through new powers to tackle non-compliance. The announcement follows on from a commitment from the government in mid-May to consider removing the 26-week service requirement for making a flexible working request, bringing forward the Employment Bill "when parliamentary time allows" and extending the redundancy protection period currently afforded to mothers on maternity leave. Although none of these measures have immediate effect, the single enforcement body needing legislation to be passed in order to be established, at least there are signs that these reforms are still in the pipeline.
The consultation responses show there is a real opportunity to deliver more effective enforcement of employment rights for vulnerable workers. The government will proceed with plans to bring together the existing labour market enforcement bodies, in line with the manifesto commitment.