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MILLIONS of workers are at risk of missing out on rights such as holiday and sick pay because of loopholes in labour laws.
Profit-hungry companies are able to exploit workers by using agencies and “outsourcing” work to other companies.
Under this system the employer at the top of the chain has no responsibility to ensure that workers from agencies and contracted companies have the basic rights they are entitled to in law.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) estimates that as many as five million workers are affected by the legal loopholes and is calling on the government to change the law.
Employers who commission other companies or use agency workers should have responsibility for ensuring the workers have their rights and workers should have the right to challenge bosses, the TUC says.
General secretary Frances O’Grady said today: “This is an issue that affects millions, from fast-food workers to people working on building sites.
“Employers have a duty of care to workers in their supply chains. They shouldn’t be allowed to wash their hands of their responsibilities.
“Joint liability must be extended to parent employers. Without it they can shrug their shoulders over minimum wage and holiday pay abuses.
“Our labour enforcement laws urgently need beefing up.”
A spokesman for the government’s Business Department said it was “considering repealing laws allowing agencies to employ workers” on cut-price wages.
It said 1.2 million agency workers could “be able to request a more stable contract” and ask for “a clear breakdown of their pay.”
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