A North-East father-of-three is calling for changes to the way ‘exploitative‘ employment agencies operate, after a rolling contract was cancelled at short notice, leaving him struggling to support his family.
Luke Buckley, from Darlington, began working for a major recruitment agency last September and was left astonished at the way it operated.
Calling for legal changes, the 36-year-old highlighted issues around a lack of employment rights, the impact of temporary contracts, short notice periods, lack of sick pay and being paid less than permanent employees for the same job.
Mr Buckley said he only took up agency work as “99 per cent” of jobs advertised through Job Centres were offered by agencies and insisted he would rather have any job than none at all.
However, he recently had a rolling contract cancelled with just a week’s notice – a legal practice that has nonetheless left him struggling to pay bills, manage debt and care for his family.
“It’s really wrong that agencies can do this – you can be working one day and told the next that you’re not needed, it’s not right.
“You go to Job Centres and it’s mostly agency work, that’s all that’s out there and you’ve just got to do it.
“People are being pushed into agency jobs and short term contracts where they can let you go at the drop of a hat and that’s a serious problem.”
Darlington MP Jenny Chapman hit out at agencies in response to Mr Buckley’s plight.
She said cases like Mr Buckley’s were becoming common, and added:
“It’s a steadily increasing problem and it’s because some agencies are able to exploit the fact that people are desperate to work in order to support their families.
“They’re unable to break that cycle and I’ve even heard instances of agencies paying the minimum wage then charging people admin costs.
“It’s outrageous and exploitative.”
In response to claims that job agencies monopolise vacancies advertised at Job Centres, a spokeswoman from the Department of Work and Pensions said their system, Universal Jobmatch, revolutionised the way jobseekers look for work.
> If setting people up for sanctions is revolutionary, it certainly has. Otherwise it’s a rubbish site and I don’t use it.
More than £4.6 million has been paid out to thousands of people working for less than the national minimum wage, including staff at a Premier League football club, figures have shown.
HM Revenue and Customs said it had held more than 1,400 investigations in the past year which led to arrears being paid to 22,000 workers.
Around 650 financial penalties were issued, worth £815,000, recovering an average of £205 per person.
Business minister Jenny Willott said: “Paying less than the minimum wage is illegal and, as HMRC’s record shows, if employers break the law they will face tough consequences.
“We want to issue a clear warning to employers who fail to pay the minimum wage – under the Government’s new rules you will be named and shamed and face a stiff financial penalty.”
The unnamed football club was ordered to pay arrears of more than £27,500 to 3,000 workers after it made deductions for uniforms and travelling time for staff working in hospitality.
Other cases included a social care provider found to have not paid its staff for travelling time and a recruitment agency ordered to pay more than £167,000 to workers, including some it had classified as unpaid interns.
Jennie Granger, director of enforcement and compliance at HMRC, said: “Paying the national minimum wage is not a choice – it’s the law. HMRC will continue to ensure that workers get at least the wage to which they are legally entitled.
“Where an employer ignores these rules, we will ensure that any arrears are paid out in full and the employer is fined. Rogue employers be warned – we will find you and you will pay.”
> So Workfare – working for benefits only – an amount below the national minimum wage ? Will the HMRC find Iain Duncan Smith and make him pay?
Source – Northern Echo, 05 June 2014
“Anyone considered a worker under the law should be paid at least the minimum wage, whether they are an intern, or someone on work experience.”
Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson MP
The Government job-seeking website Universal Jobmatch is still littered with illegal unpaid work despite David Cameron’s claims that companies who fail to pay the minimum wage will be ‘named and shamed’.
Many employers are using the site to offer unpaid work experience roles or internships such as this advertisement calling for”extremely hardworking” graduates to work in exchange for lunch and travel expenses.
Unless unpaid work experience positions form part of a formal Jobcentre scheme they are illegal under minimum wage laws. The law is very clear and guidance on who is entitled to receive the minimum wage can be…
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