In a statement accompanying his annual report, the interim director of labour market enforcement has highlighted some of the challenges posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis in terms of compliance and enforcement.

These include the health risks taken by some casual workers and self-employed personnel facing financial problems as a result of having fallen between the cracks of government support schemes. These have had and continue to have (as the example of the garment industry in Leicester shows), an impact not just on the workers themselves but also on the broader communities in which they live.

The report also flags up the poor working conditions and exploitation of key workers, such as the social care workforce who face problems including non-payment of the minimum wage alongside risks of labour exploitation.

People have also become more aware that many of the couriers and delivery drivers who arrived at our doors during the pandemic lack employment protection because they are questionably designated as self-employed. Likewise, workers in high risk sectors such as hand car washes and nail bars also lack entitlement to many legal rights because of their dubious employment status. 

Propelled by the dangers posed by the recent crisis, the director argues in favour of a Single Enforcement Body (SEB) which does more than just fold the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS), the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) into one body.

Instead, he advocates for a broader, better funded SEB which could:


  • Build on links within HMRC, the National Crime Agency and the police to develop a holistic approach to deep rooted problems of serious criminality, while also tackling the less severe end of the spectrum effectively.
  • Create a local compliance and enforcement service staffed by field officers who might also have capacity to identify health and safety issues. A local SEB team could collaborate with other local agencies such as the police and local authorities.
  • Provide clearer routes for complaints and support for workers. This might also involve an examination of the role and management of the employment tribunal system.
  • Engage employers and sectors in a joined-up way to develop comprehensive sector-wide compliance and enforcement strategies, starting with high risk areas like construction and social care.


To read the director’s statement on the report in full, go to: