Enforcement Bodies for employment rights

The government is establishing a new Single Enforcement Body for employment rights.

The majority of employment rights are enforced by the individual through an employment tribunal but there are exceptions where enforcement of labour market legislation is carried out by the three labour market enforcement bodies – HMRC National Minimum Wage/National Living Wage (NMW/NLW), Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS).

Each body has a range of tools to tackle non-compliance, from warning letters to labour market enforcement undertakings, orders and prosecution although the government is looking to establish a new Single Enforcement Body for employment rights.

The BIOR Recruitment Certification Scheme was created with kind input from all 3 of the UKs enforcement bodies responsible for state enforcement of specific employment rights – EAS, HMRC NMW/NLW team & GLAA. – Get Certified Today.

Areas of Enforcement

Enforcement Body Areas of Enforcement Geographical Coverage

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)(on behalf of the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS))

National Minimum and National Living Wages UK wide

Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA)
(sponsored by the Home Office)

Labour Exploitation and modern slavery related to worker exploitation


England and Wales

Gangmasters licensing scheme for suppliers of labour in high risk sectors in agriculture and the fresh food supply chain
(UK wide)

UK wide

Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS)
(part of BEIS)

Employment agencies and employment businesses England, Wales and Scotland

State enforcement of employment rights landscape and geographical coverage.


Spectrum of Compliance

GLA Licensing conditions   Revoke or refuse license LMEUs and LMEOs Prosecution
Nudge letters
Self corrections
Civil penalties   LMEUs and LMEOs Prosecution
EAS Warning letters   Prohibition LMEUs and LMEOs Prosecution


spectrum of compliance

The table above indicates each enforcement body has a range of tools they can use depending on the nature of non-compliance.


Powers and sanctions

There are currently a wide range of powers available to the existing enforcement bodies, powers are specific to each enforcement regime.



  • Prosecution – where an employer refuses or wilfully neglects to pay NMW, fails to keep records to prove NMW has been paid, produces false records or obstructs HMRC.
  • Penalties - Where an employer has underpaid NMW, HMRC issue a notice of underpayment for the unpaid arrears, with a penalty of 200% of arrears. Penalties are a minimum of £100 and maximum of £20,000 per worker.
  • Publicly name employers found in breach or publicise enforcement activity to different degrees.



  • Prosecution – where a gangmaster has operated without a licence, is in possession of false documents with the intention of acting as a licensed gangmaster, where an unlicensed gangmaster has been used, or for obstructing GLAA officers. GLAA can also undertake criminal investigations into other labour market offences, as defined in sections 3(3) of the Immigration Act 2016, including modern slavery offences related to worker exploitation using its wider enforcement powers under the Policy and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
  • Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders and Risk Orders – Prevention orders are used to prevent slavery and human trafficking offences being committed by someone who has already committed such offences. It may impose any restriction on the defendant that the Court deems necessary for the purpose of protecting the public from harm. Risk orders can be made by a Court in respect of an individual who has not been convicted of a slavery or trafficking offence where the Court is satisfied that there is a risk that the defendant may commit such an offence and that the order is necessary to prevent serious harm to the public.
  • Refusal, suspension or revocation of a licence – used under the gangmasters licensing scheme where a gangmaster has not complied with the licensing conditions or a statutory requirement.
  • Publicly name employers found in breach or publicise enforcement activity to different degrees.



  • EAS works with recruitment agencies, hirers and work-seekers to ensure compliance with employment rights and carries out targeted inspections of employment agencies and employment businesses.
  • Prosecution – for failure to comply with a prohibition order.
  • Prohibition – used to prevent an individual from running an employment business for up to 10 years due to misconduct or unsuitability.
  • Publicly name employers found in breach or publicise enforcement activity to different degrees.