Examination of Witnesses

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:21 pm on 12th February 2019.

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Caroline Robinson:

Workers’ protections are best secured through the promotion and protection of labour rights. Immigration policy can serve to undermine the rights of workers—for example, the absence of routes to access justice for undocumented workers, the limitations on undocumented workers coming forward to report abuses and exploitative practices against them for fear of immigration repercussions such as those I have just mentioned, and the offence of illegal working—and there can be an undermining influence from things such as short-term visa schemes. If protections are not put in place, there is a real risk of exploitation.

As I have mentioned, we advocate for the role of labour inspectorates and labour market enforcement in promoting, protecting and upholding labour rights, along with a number of other measures. For example, Meri mentioned access to a complaints line being crucial so that workers can report abuse against them, but we also need strong, proactive labour market enforcement. We have advocated for a 60% focus on proactive operations for labour market enforcement bodies, and a 40% focus on reactive operations. We are very grateful to the Government for recognising that in their response to the director of labour market enforcement’s annual strategy last year.