Around one million UK agency workers cannot challenge minimum wage or holiday pay abuses due to being employed by recruitment agencies, umbrella companies and personal service companies.
The TUC has warned that these workers cannot enforce their basic employment rights with their ‘parent company’, meaning they are at risk of being cheated out of entitlements such as holiday pay and the national minimum wage.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady explained that agency clients should not be able to shirk the rights of those that work for them.
“This is an issue that affects millions, from fast food workers to people working on building sites,” she said. “Employers have a duty of care to workers in their supply chains. They shouldn't be allowed to wash their hands of their responsibilities.”
The TUC wants joint liability laws extended so that workers can bring a claim for unpaid wages and holiday pay against any contractor in the supply chain above them.
For example, the TUC states that currently, a hospital cleaner working for an outsourced company in the health service couldn’t bring a claim against an NHS trust if they weren’t given their correct holiday pay.
“Without it they can shrug their shoulders over minimum wage and holiday pay abuses. Our labour enforcement laws urgently need beefing up.”
A Business Department spokesman said: “The Government recently set out plans to ensure millions of workers, including agency workers, will benefit from enhanced rights and protections.
“Under the package of proposals, all 1.2 million agency workers will be able to request a more stable contract and receive a clear breakdown of their pay.
“We are also considering repealing laws allowing agencies to employ workers on cheaper rates.”