To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of suspending the sales and production of allegedly exploitative companies in the garment industry sector pending investigation into (a) safety measures and (b) reports of fraud at factories supplying those companies.
We are deeply concerned by the appalling reports of illegal and unsafe working conditions for garment workers and welcome all intelligence on this issue. The Government will not tolerate the exploitation of vulnerable workers for commercial gain and already spends £33 million a year on state enforcement of employment rights. Where non-compliance is found, the enforcement bodies will deploy a range of actions ranging from providing specific advice to employers, issuing enforcement notices, prosecutions and director disqualification.
In his 2018/19 Labour Market Enforcement Strategy, the previous Director of Labour Market Enforcement recommended introducing joint responsibility for brands at the top of a supply chain where non-compliance is found. He also recommended provisions for the temporary embargo of “hot goods” to disrupt supply chain activity where significant non-compliance is found. The Government agrees that businesses at the top of the supply chain need to work with their suppliers to take corrective action when non-compliance is identified but recognises that any measures should be proportionate. Government has consulted on these recommendations as part of the Single Enforcement Body consultation and will publish the response in due course.