Tuesday 25 April 2023

Playing by the rules

A new approach to enforcing workers’ rights

Debates about raising, or indeed cutting, legal protections for workers are a staple of British politics – with welcome progress including a rising minimum wage driving down low pay. But too often the reality that these rights, rates and rules mean little if they aren’t enforced is forgotten. The systems used to enforce workers’ rights are often fragmented and underfunded, making it harder to identify breaches and deter poor behaviour. It is still far too easy for bad employers to undercut good employers by ducking minimum legal standards. And our focus on individuals to enforce their own rights brings challenges when those most at risk from rights violations are the least likely to report it. The UK needs a new approach to better protect workers and enforce their rights, informed by our own experience but also that of other countries.

To what extent do UK firms comply with workers’ rights? How are workers’ rights currently enforced in the UK, and how does this differ to practices in other countries? And what reforms might enable enforcement agencies to be more successful at protecting workers from rights violations?

To mark the culmination of a three-year investigation into labour market enforcement – supported by Unbound Philanthropy and drawing on contributions from international research partners – the Resolution Foundation is hosting a half-day conference to debate and answer these questions. Following presentations of the key highlights from the investigation’s final report, we will hear from leading experts on the challenges of enforcing workers’ rights and how these can be overcome. The event will conclude with a keynote speech from Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Angela Rayner MP, followed by networking drinks.

The event will be open for people to physically attend, alongside being broadcast via YouTube and the Resolution Foundation website. Viewers will be able to submit questions to the panels before and during the event via Slido.


2pm – Session 1: The problem. Speakers include: Kate Roberts, Head of Policy at FLEX; Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation; Alan Bogg, Old Square Chambers; and Hannah Slaughter, Senior Economist at the Resolution Foundation.

3:15pm – Session 2: The solution. Speakers include: Patricia Rice, Low Pay Commissioner; Matt Warman MP, Co-chair of the APPG on the Future of Work; John Kelly, Irish Workplace Relation; and Lindsay Judge, Research Director at the Resolution Foundation.

4:15pm – Session 3: Keynote speech by Angela Rayner MP, followed by Q&A with Resolution Foundation Chief Executive Torsten Bell.

4:45pm – Networking drinks.