Job agencies warned over breaches

Employment agencies in health & safety breaches

09.06.2009

A total of 18 employment agencies supplying drivers to businesses have been reprimanded by the Government.

The West Midlands firms were found to have broken the law a total of 80 times following an investigation by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.

Offences included not checking health and safety risks with hirers, failing to confirm the identity of drivers and not providing written agreements on pay.

A number of firms could face further action after more investigations have taken place.

Department for Business minister Pat McFadden, said: "The recession must not be an excuse for denying people their employment rights. Cutting corners in this way exploits drivers, undercuts the agencies that play by the rules and, in this sector, could put people at serious risk on the roads.

"Follow up investigations will take place to make sure that the agencies concerned have changed their ways. Agencies that continue to flout the law could be prosecuted and hit hard with unlimited fines or banned from operating for up to 10 years."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Fergal Dowling from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "Many companies think that a recession can be an opportunity to put pressure on staff, but they should be careful. In many sectors, such as driving and construction, employees simply found somewhere else and left if they did not like the way employers were treating them: if alternative work is hard to come by, they are more likely to bring a claim, and awards will be higher as they will find it harder to get another job."