We are deeply concerned by the reports of labour exploitation in the Leicester textiles industry. In light of these serious allegations, a multi-agency Taskforce, led by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) has been set up in Leicester to enable the relevant enforcement bodies to work together at pace to take appropriate action against unscrupulous employers who exploit workers. The taskforce includes HMRC’s National Minimum Wage (NMW) team.
Since 2012/13, HMRC’s NMW team has investigated more than 150 garment trade employers, including multiple employers operating in Leicester. To date, HMRC has recovered over £215,000 in wage arrears for 411 textile workers and issued over £325,000 in corresponding penalties to employers. Since 2015, HMRC have facilitated 19 director disqualifications relating to the textile sector. HMRC are also exploring outreach activities with local groups in Leicester, such as holding community events, designed to promote HMRC NMW rights for workers, and support employers and agency partners.
The Government is committed to improving enforcement of employment rights. We have announced the intention to introduce a Single Enforcement Body, which will provide a clearer route for workers to raise a complaint and get support, enabling more coordinated enforcement action and the use of pooled intelligence to better target proactive enforcement. We are also extending state enforcement to cover holiday pay for vulnerable workers and umbrella companies operating in the agency worker market.