According to the latest annual report from the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate, the number of complaints against recruitment agencies has increased by over 50 per cent.

Nearly half of all these complaints were received from December 2017 to March 2018, with the hospitality and healthcare sectors topping the list, accounting for nearly 25 per cent of the total.

The largest volume of complaints related to failure of the employment business or agency to pay a worker for all the hours they had worked. The infringements identified in these sectors equated to almost a third of the total found during the reporting period.

Over the course of 2017/18, EAS recovered around £150,000 for individuals who had been exploited. Most of the recovered monies related to non-payment of wages or money due to temporary workers, or where fees were being charged to find work for them. Since April 2008, EAS Inspectors have recovered over £1.5 million for individuals whose employment rights have not been met.

EAS, which is part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), attributed the rise in complaints (from 828 in 2016/17 to 1,261 in 2017/18) to an increased awareness by workers of their rights as a result of its own awareness campaigns and a higher media profile more generally of workers’ rights.

In particular, it highlighted a targeted awareness raising exercise it carried out with local authorities to highlight the powers of EAS as well as other partner organisations such as the police, trade unions and devolved governments to ensure matters relating to agency workers were carefully considered and to highlight how EAS could support their objectives.

Anyone who wants to make a complaint about the conduct of an employment agency or employment business should in the first instance contact Acas (0300 123 1100).

Anyone who wants to submit a complaint in writing can complete the complaint form which is available on the Pay and Work Rights page on GOV.UK. Completed forms that relate to employment agencies or employment businesses will be forwarded to EAS for consideration.

Emma Game from Thompsons Solicitors commented: “These workers are particularly vulnerable as the legal rights that they have may be less known, and scrupulous employees will take advantage of this. It is vital that workers know their rights and there is no excuse for companies to treat workers in this way.  Further campaigns and active enforcement can only be a positive thing”.

The full report is available on the Government website.