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‘Low-paid workers unlikely to report abuses out of fear and insecurity’

The process for reporting abuses is not working for the most vulnerable employees, the report found.

24 July 2022

Low-paid workers do not report being underpaid because of fear and insecurity, a new report warns.

The Low Pay Commission (LPC) said the process for reporting abuses is not working for the most vulnerable employees.

It studied non-compliance and enforcement of the minimum wage in Leicester’s textiles industry, saying that, since 2020, multiple agencies have carried out large-scale joint enforcement operations in the area, partly in response to reports of exploitation and underpayment.

Close up image of shirt being made
The report studied non-compliance and enforcement of the minimum wage in Leicester’s textiles industry (Alamy/PA)

Enforcement bodies have found relatively modest non-compliance in Leicester, while commissioners spoke to other bodies and individuals who believed non-compliance to be “widespread and flagrant”, said the report.

LPC chairman Bryan Sanderson said: “The evidence we heard from workers in Leicester was striking.

“Despite some positive recent progress, job insecurity, a poisonous workplace culture and low expectations leave workers trapped in poor-quality jobs and vulnerable to exploitation.

Jeans being made in Cardiff
‘Across the UK, workers in precarious positions’ are unlikely to report abuse, the study found (Alamy/PA)

“These same factors mean they are unlikely to report abuses, which undermines efforts to enforce workers’ rights.

“The case of Leicester is not unique. Across the UK, workers in precarious positions face the same obstacles, with the same consequences for enforcement.

“The problem demands comprehensive action, including to give these workers greater security over their hours and incomes.”

The commission said the process for reporting abuses does not work for the most vulnerable low-paid workers, and fails to engage third-party bodies workers may trust more.

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