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The Employment Agency Standards inspectorate, which is part of the government's Department for Business Innovations and Skills has over the last year boosted its powers, doubled in size and won back more than twice as much money for workers since April than in the entire previous year.
New figures reveal that since April the Government has won back over £125,000 in unpaid wages for agency workers. Business Minister Pat McFadden said "over the past year we have given the Agency Standards Inspectorate more staff and more powers to protect agency workers. I' pleased that the bigger, more powerful agency standards team is out there delivering results for agency workers."
The recession should not be used as an excuse to deny people their employment rights, and the agency standards inspectors are a crucial tool in ensuring this.
In June, EAS inspectors recovered over £17,000 for four engineers in West Sussex. As a result of not being paid on time, one man had to sell his car to pay his rent, and another had to borrow money from relatives to pay his mortgage. But once EAS inspectors were contacted, the workers received £15,000 within three days, with the remainder arriving shortly after.
Kevin Green, Chief Executive at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said "at a time when many workers are using agencies as a route back into the labour market we must drive workers and employers alike to use agencies which abide by the law and industry standards."
"For many years the REC has argued for better enforcement on the sector and we are pleased to see the inspectorate is taking action at a time when the industry itself has launched its own 'Serious About Standards' campaign."
Kirsty Craig, Managing Director of TEAM (The Employment Agent's Movement) UK commented that it is great to see the EAS using its teeth to deal with rogue agencies ââ‚¬Å“this sort of behaviour does our industry no favours whatsoever and whilst most recruitment agencies more than fulfil their obligations to their temporary staff, there are others who consistently flout the law time and again. These people need to understand that they are not above the law and that appropriate action will be taken.
The inspectors also recovered almost £30,000 owed to 55 models after a London agency ceased to trade. Katie Froud, of Albamodel, who runs the Model Alliance said "the Alliance is grateful to the Agency Standards inspectorate team who acted immediately upon our request to secure funds for models when we were alerted to an agency ceasing to trade."
"It is totally unacceptable that models who work irregular hours with irregular pay can lose the money paid by clients which is due to them".
The Employment Agency Standards team has recovered money for workers in a number of circumstances, including where agencies had not paid wages owed, where money had been unfairly deducted by the agencies and where workers were charged for services by the agencies that they had not signed up to.