Despite accusations that companies pay lower wages to non UK citizens; employment laws have never been stricter.
This means that all workers are equal – wherever they come from.
Because of Britain’s membership of the EU, it’s unlikely that we will see any efforts by companies to get round this new legislation, which is seen as a victory for those who have been campaigning for equal rights for workers over the past decade or so.
Since Poland became a member of the EU in 2004 there have been claims that many Polish workers are paid less than those from the UK. But many experts now believe this is a thing of the past, if it ever occurred in the first place.
Paula Whelan, head of employment law at Shakespeare’s, explained: “The government would have to considerably rewrite our laws to create an environment for one group of people to be preferred over another. We’ve been working towards this point since the 1970s so it couldn’t happen overnight.”
Large firms such as Tesco, one of the biggest private sector employers in the country, have brushed up on their employment law advice since EU expansion but have always denied any accusations of a split wage structure for British workers and other EU nationals.
Gerry Gray, head of Tesco’s UK stores and supply chain, said: “The most serious accusation is that we have employed foreign workers on cheaper wages over British workers. This is simply untrue. We are not legally allowed to offer different rates of pay to people from different nations. Our pay rates are the same whether colleagues are British or from the EU.”
This is a point echoed by Jonathan Bruck, an employment solicitor for IBB Law.
“If Poles are being paid less than Brits that would be discrimination,” he said. “I would be surprised if they [Tesco] adopted such a crude employment structure.”
The problem may not be that foreign workers are being paid less; it’s more likely that they are taking lower paid jobs that others just aren’t interested in. In other words there are just not enough local workers applying for the posts, and what faster way to fill 50 warehouse jobs than to ask an agency which have willing workers on their books – possibly from eastern Europe?
It’s difficult to gauge how laws on employment rights for foreign nationals have made an impact.
Despite an initial influx several years ago following expansion, many immigrants from countries such as Poland and Latvia have returned home following the recession.
And with companies under no obligation to compile data on the nationality of their employees, figures on the true number of foreign nationals being employed by UK companies will always be a vague estimate at best.
This article was written by content writer and journalist Matthew Crist on behalf of Canter Levin & Berg who specialise in employment law uk.