New Gangmaster licensing rules will see more rogue agencies

By agency reporter
July 27, 2013

Responding to an announcement by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), that it is to stop carrying out automatic inspections of all companies applying for a new GLA licence, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has warned that the decision could lead to an increase in rogue employment agencies.

From October, the GLA will no longer automatically send an inspector to check that agency workers are being paid properly and working under safe conditions before it grants a business or employment agency a licence to operate.

The TUC believes this move has come about because the GLA has been put under increased pressure by ministers to introduce 'light touch' regulation and that it is part of a deliberate attempt to weaken the role of the GLA.

In June, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) unveiled proposals to strip the GLA of its powers to regulate the forestry sector, land agents and cleaning contractors operating in the food processing industry.

Under these proposals, which could be introduced later this year, employment agencies in these sectors would no longer have to get a GLA licence before they start up and willnot be subject to inspections once they are operating.

Instead of ending automatic inspections and reducing the scope of the GLA, the authority's remit should be extended to other high-risk sectors including construction, hospitality and social care, says the TUC.

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: "The government seems determined to weaken the role of the GLA regardless of the impact on vulnerable workers.

"As the tragic events of Morecambe Bay showed, it is essential that inspectors check on workers' conditions, which is why having automatic inspections is so important.

"GLA inspections ensure that people working in high-risk industries are protected, that they are paid the minimum wage, work in a safe environment and are not exploited. Inspections also increase consumers' confidence that workers who are preparing their food and manufacturing products are not being mistreated."

She concluded: "'The government's so-called war on 'red tape' will significantly increase the risk of rogue employers being granted a licence, under-cutting law-abiding agencies and abusing their workforces."

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