Press release

Sir David Metcalf named as the first Director of Labour Market Enforcement

Sir David Metcalf has been named as the first Director of Labour Market Enforcement.

Sir David Metcalf

Sir David Metcalf

  • new director will set the strategic priorities for all employment enforcement bodies to stamp out exploitation
  • intelligence gathered on minimum wage violations, unscrupulous employment agencies and other labour market exploitation will identify vulnerable sectors and regions and inform the most effective response
  • government will also launch a new £1.7 million campaign to raise awareness of national minimum and national living wage rates

Sir David Metcalf has today (5 January 2017) been named as the first Director of Labour Market Enforcement to oversee a government crackdown on exploitation in the workplace.

Sir David, who was chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee until August 2016, will set the strategic priorities for the:

  • Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
  • Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate
  • HMRC’s National Minimum Wage enforcement team

For the first time, the 3 agencies are centralising their intelligence, enabling the director to draw up an annual strategy targeting sectors and regions which are vulnerable to unscrupulous employment practices. He is also working alongside the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner to better tackle exploitation and slavery in the labour market.

The announcement comes ahead of the launch of a £1.7 million national minimum and living wage awareness raising campaign later this month. It will help make sure the UK’s lowest paid workers receive the correct rates of pay when they increase on 1 April 2017 and know what steps to take if they do not.

Sir David Metcalf said:

I’m very excited to be taking on this new role, drawing together the important work of these 3 labour market enforcement teams.

While the UK is by and large a fair and safe place to work, there are still rogue employers who exploit their workers and undercut honest businesses. As the government has made clear, this will not go unpunished.

Business Minister Margot James said:

Sir David’s extensive experience will be invaluable in this hugely important role to help stamp out workplace exploitation and ensure that when unscrupulous employment practices are found, justice is done for those affected.

As we have made clear, the government is determined to make sure the economy works for all. That’s why we are investing £1.7 million in a national minimum and living wage awareness raising campaign alongside a record £25.3 million on national minimum and living wage enforcement next year to make sure the UK’s lowest paid workers get the pay rise they deserve.

Minister for Vulnerability, Safeguarding and Countering Extremism Sarah Newton said:

Labour exploitation is absolutely unacceptable in a Britain that works for everyone. That is why we reformed the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, giving it the necessary powers to tackle labour abuse and exploitation across the economy.

Sir David’s role will complement the world-leading action already taken by the government to tackle modern slavery including new powers for law enforcement agencies, increased support and protection for victims and the groundbreaking work to ensure transparency in supply chains.

The announcement comes weeks after powers came into force which mean rogue employers now face up to 2 years in prison for serious or repeat labour market offences.

Last month the Chancellor also unveiled an extra £4.3 million a year in funding for national minimum and living wage enforcement, taking the government’s total spend to £25.3 million for next year.

Notes to editors

  1. The Director of Labour Market Enforcement will report to Secretaries of State for the Home Office and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
  2. On 25 November 2016, labour market enforcement undertakings and orders came into force under the Immigration Act which can ultimately lead to criminal prosecutions and prison sentences of up to 2 years for businesses which mistreat their workers.
  3. Since 2013, almost 700 employers who have failed to pay the national minimum or living wage have been named and shamed.
  4. Since 2010, HMRC has recovered almost £30 million in arrears for more than 173,000 workers.
  5. On 1 April 2017, the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage will increase. To see the current rates, visit
  6. In October 2016, the government commissioned Matthew Taylor to conduct an independent review into modern employment practices to ensure our employment rules keep up to date to reflect new ways of working.

Sir David Metcalf biography

Sir David Metcalf was chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee from 2007 to August 2016.

Before that he was a member of the Senior Salaries Review Body from 2009 to 2015, providing recommendations on pay for Judges, Senior Civil Services, top military and senior NHS Managers.

Sir David was a founding member of the Low Pay Commission, serving for 10 years from 1997 to 2007 in advising the government on National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates.

Sir David is also director of the Starting Price Regulatory Commission, ensuring the returned price of a bet reflects the starting price.

He is currently an emeritus professor at the London School of Economics and has written more than 100 publications on labour economics and industrial relations.

Published 5 January 2017