HC Deb 05 July 1978 vol 953 cc186-7W

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what action is being taken to deal with the problem of low pay of homeworkers and to promote their health and safety.

Mr.John Grant

I intend to establish a homeworking unit within the Wages Inspectorate, which will be strengthened for this purpose. In each division of the inspectorate an inspector will be designated to concentrate on the inspection of homeworkers' pay and generally act as a focal point of interest in the subject so far as pay is concerned. The inspectorate will also be mounting a special drive on inspecting the pay of home-workers in selected areas during the summer and autumn.

I propose to set up an advisory committee under my chairmanship to monitor the work of the homeworking unit and keep under review what further action may be needed.

Finally, I propose to use the powers in section 95 of the Employment Protection Act to obtain information from employers covered by wages councils about the homeworkers they employ.

I believe that this package of measures represents an immediate positive response by the Government to a difficult and longstanding problem. I have already discussed these matters with the TUC and will be inviting the TUC, CBI and other parties to further discussions about the employee status of homeworkers.

So far as health and safety are concerned, homeworkers are already covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act. I am informed by the chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that the Commission is preparing legislative proposals for a new system of registration and control which will improve the arrangements for the identification of hazards and for securing compliance with the Act.