The UK government has appointed Margaret Beels OBE as the new director of labour market enforcement (DLME) with responsibility for stamping out workforce exploitation.
Taking up the role with immediate effect, Beels will oversee an annual assessment of the scale and nature of non-compliance in the labour market – from accidental breaches of the national minimum wage to modern slavery crimes.
Beels will also set the strategic direction for the three existing labour market enforcement bodies: the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, HMRC’s National Minimum Wage Team, and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), which Beels has been chair of since 2011.
Minister for Labour Markets Paul Scully said: “Clamping down on unscrupulous employment practices and protecting workers is an absolute priority for this government.
“As we continue to support workers and root out exploitation by rogue employers, Margaret’s experience will be invaluable, and I look forward to working with her in helping to build an economy that works for all.”
Beels takes on the role from Matthew Taylor, who was the previous interim director from August 2019 to January 2021.
In June 2021, the government announced plans to create a single enforcement body, with the three existing bodies combined into a one-stop shop to improve enforcement through better coordinated and pooled intelligence.
Beels’ appointment follows the recently announced rise in the National Living Wage, from April 2022, to £9.50 an hour. In addition, the government has increased budget for minimum wage enforcement and compliance, which is now more than £27m annually, up from £13.2m in 2016.
The DLME is required to present the annual strategy to the home secretary and the business secretary for their approval.
In addition, the director must present to parliament an annual report on the extent to which enforcement activity has had an effect on non-compliance of labour law.
Commenting on her appointment, Beels said: “All workers are entitled to fair wages and proper working conditions. Sadly this is not always the case.
“I look forward to working with the three enforcement bodies within my jurisdiction to deliver better outcomes for workers who are being exploited.”