Margaret Beels OBE has been appointed as the new Director of Labour Market Enforcement, replacing Matthew Taylor, who was in the role as an interim from August 2019 to January 2021. The Government had been pressed in Parliament over the lengthy vacancy in the Director position. Beels was appointed on the 22nd of November and takes up her role with immediate effect.
The Director of Labour Market Enforcement role was created as part of the Immigration Act 2016, in order to deal with non-compliance in the labour market. Earlier this year, the Government outlined plans to create a single enforcement body, which will see the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and HMRC’s National Minimum Wage Enforcement combined.
Announcing the appointment, the Government said that 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 more severe and deliberate crimes such as modern slavery.” Minister for Labour Markets Paul Scully said:
“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.”
Margaret Beels previously worked in the Department of Energy and played a key role in delivering the privatisation of the electricity industry in England and Wales. She has also been Director of Scottish Gas and became Chair of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) in July 2011. The GLA was created in 2006 in the wake of the Morecambe Bay tragedy, where 23 Chinese cockle pickers were drowned.
Beels was central to the transformation of the GLA into the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) expanding its powers to include the investigation into forced and compulsory labour as defined in the Modern Slavery Act 2015. She was awarded an OBE in the New Years’ Honours in 2020 for services to modern slavery and labour exploitation. On her appointment, Beels said:
“I am proud to be appointed as Director of Labour Market Enforcement. I look forward to working closely with sponsor departments, enforcement bodies and wider stakeholders. I and my colleagues will be setting out workplans in the next few months.”