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Employment: Agency Workers

Volume 709: debated on Wednesday 25 March 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how they ensure that employment agencies and gangmasters explain employment rights and entitlements to their workers. [HL1682]

The Government are running a sustained programme to raise awareness of employment rights among vulnerable workers, including those working for employment agencies or gangmasters.

On 9 February 2009, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform launched a £1.2 million campaign aimed at agency workers. As part of this campaign, my right honourable friend the Minister for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs wrote to more than 13,000 employment agencies in Great Britain to promote guidance for employers on the businesslink.gov.uk website and to provide copies of a leaflet entitled Agency Workers: Know Your Rights. These materials outline the rights of agency workers and the responsibilities of employment agencies towards them. The leaflets are being distributed to agency workers through trade unions, universities, refugee groups, citizens advice bureaux and will soon be available in jobcentres.

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority's licensing standards stipulate what licensed gangmasters must do to ensure that workers' rights are protected. Alongside these standards the GLA provides advice and guidance for workers in 15 languages in leaflets and on the authority's website. Thousands of leaflets have been requested by gangmasters and businesses as well as voluntary groups, trade unions, foreign embassy consular services and citizens advice bureaux. The leaflets are handed out by GLA officers during inspections and are small enough for a worker to conceal so that those who are not confident to speak out at the time can check their rights and contact the GLA at a later date.