A new report by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) reveals evidence
that vulnerable low-skilled workers are at risk of exploitation due to labour
regulations not being complied with or properly enforced.
The study found that employers benefit from migrant labour in sectors such as food
processing, agriculture and restaurants, as they often cannot get an adequate supply
of British workers.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics shows in 2013 there were 2.1 million
people from overseas working in low skilled occupations. Of these, 1.2 million were
born outside of the EU.
But Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Gangmasters Licensing
Authority (GLA) – the two major enforcement bodies designed to protect vulnerable
worker,- are under resourced and their penalties are too weak to tackle the
potentially growing problem of non-compliance and exploitation of migrant workers in
Professor Sir David Metcalf CBE, chair of the MAC, said
“Our flexible labour market has served us well. But vulnerable low-skilled
workers, whether British or foreign, need protection.
“There is incomplete compliance with and enforcement of labour regulations,
and regulatory resources and penalties are inadequate.
“A typical employer can expect a compliance visit just once in 250 years and a
prosecution once in a million years.
”We must also redouble our efforts to equip our young people with the skills to
compete in a flexible job market.”
Overall, the MAC found that migrant workers over the last 20 years have not had a
major impact on the pay of British workers, on UK employment, the wider UK
economy, or areas such as housing, healthcare, crime, education and welfare
But migrants in low-skilled jobs have had a much greater impact at a local level as
most are concentrated in a relatively small number of areas across the UK. The