Employment agencies and companies must not use the recession as an excuse for mistreating employees.

That is according to employment relations minister Pat McFadden, who warned against agencies who were "short changing their staff" and failing to play "by the rules".

Mr McFadden suggested that "vulnerable workers" could be at risk from "rogue employers" willing to exploit them.

Hinting at the government’s tough stance on such behaviour, Mr McFadden said: "We will not allow rogue employers to use the downturn as an excuse to cut corners and deprive staff of their rights at work – or undercut other businesses that are doing the right thing."

He referred to the Know Your Rights campaign when he said that the "call for fairness is backed up by action".

As part of the campaign, Mr McFadden explained that the government had "doubled the number of Employment Agency Standards inspectors" and increased their jurisdiction in a bid to "crack down on rule-breakers".

The government Know Your Rights campaign was launched on February 9th with a budget of £1.25 million.