Workers ‘need protection from bosses’ abuse and exploitation’

A NEW body should be set up in Scotland to protect workers from abuse and exploitation by bosses.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is calling for politicians at Holyrood and Westminster to work together to create a Fair Employment Commission.

Over the last two years, advisers in Citizens Scotland have dealt with some 107,000 cases where people claim to have been treated unfairly at work – almost 150 a day.

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CAS fears that could be the tip of the iceberg, with many people too afraid to report such treatment.

Susan McPhee, CAS head of policy, spoke out as the organisation published its Fair Employment report. She said: “The cases we see are bad enough, but we get a sense from talking to these clients there are many more people out there who are suffering these problems but are too scared to come forward, because they fear they will lose their job.”

Ms McPhee added: “To address the problem longer term, we call today for a Fair Employment Commission – with powers to identify wrongdoing and to punish employers who flout the law and exploit their staff.”

She said those who experienced problems at work were often low-paid and low-skilled workers, with many unaware of their rights, leaving them “vulnerable to unfair treatment by rogue employers”.

She said: “As a society we might have hoped that workplace exploitation was a thing of the distant past.

“Sadly, this report shows that many Scots are still being treated unfairly. Examples include illegal changes to contracts, unfair dismissal, low pay, withheld wages and victimisation of those who have tried to demand their rights.”

In 2010-11, Citizens Advice Bureau staff helped with more than 11,000 issues.