In May 2015 the UK Prime Minister announced his intention to publish a new ‘Immigration Bill’ that would address both labour exploitation and the so-called undercutting of British workers by migrants. The Immigration Bill is currently making its way through Parliament and Part One covers the Prime Minister’s labour market concerns. FLEX is leading advocacy on Part One, proposing an alternative approach to better combat labour exploitation and highlighting the way in which more immigration control creates yet more migrant worker vulnerability.
FLEX Policy Director, Caroline Robinson, delivered oral evidence to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee on the Immigration Bill at its first meeting, calling for:
- The proposed Director of Labour Market Enforcement to prioritise the protection of workers and workers’ rights;
- UK labour inspectorates to be adequately funded to prevent labour exploitation;
- A separation between immigration control and labour enforcement; and
- The rejection of the proposed ‘offence of illegal working’.
FLEX worked with opposition parties on key amendments to the Immigration Bill to try and improve Part One for vulnerable workers. Every one of FLEX’s proposed amendments (read FLEX's Committee Stage Brief) was tabled and debated at Committee Stage. Written evidence provided by FLEX set out key definitions to guide the committee’s discussions and provided background to forced labour indicators and labour laws.
This marks the start of a process towards reform of the UK labour inspectorate. Along side the Immigration Bill the Government has launched a consultation on ‘Tackling Exploitation in the Labour Market’ that closes on 7th December 2015. FLEX will continue to engage at all stages of this process to make sure that labour inspection focuses on the enforcement of labour standards and is not diverted nor weakened over the coming months.