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New helpline set up for vulnerable workers

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Employees who are experiencing illegal working terms and conditions now have a single helpline to call in order to seek advice about their rights.

The new Pay and Work Rights helpline forms part of a wider campaign to raise awareness of workplace rights.

It has been developed in cooperation with employers, trade unions and the government.

It offers advice on a number of employment regulation issues including the minimum wage, the working time directive, employment agency standards and gangmaster licensing.

Previously, calls made concerning each of these areas were handled by five separate government bodies. Now there is one point of contact that can deal with multiple complaints.

Pat McFadden, the Business Minister, said: “By consolidating the current complex system of different helplines for different issues into one single number we are making it easier for workers to report abuses and for government to respond.

“We want to transfer the burden of navigating the system from the worker to the government. This is an important step, and we are determined that the recession does not become an excuse to deny people their basic rights at work.”

Tom Hadley of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) welcomed the new initiative.

He said: “The minority of rogue providers who mistreat workers are also in the business of undercutting legitimate agencies. The REC has consistently called for better enforcement of existing regulations and for a more joined-up approach by different government inspectorates. The helpline is a step in the right direction.”