Gangmasters Licensing Authority
House of Lords
Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative)
The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) has been considered under the employment theme of the Government's Red Tape Challenge. Last December, we announced that the Red Tape Challenge Ministerial Star Chamber had endorsed the need for the GLA to continue to enforce protection for vulnerable workers, while requiring it to look at reducing burdens on compliant operators. The GLA has been further considered within the Red Tape Challenge and I am today announcing the outcome of that process.
The GLA has done a great deal of valuable work since it was formally constituted on
ensure GLA targets suspected serious and organised crime by working more closely with the Serious Organised Crime Authority and other specialist law enforcement agencies;ensure that evidence of worker exploitation by unlicensed gangmasters or licence holders will contribute effectively to continued successful investigation and prosecution of organised crime groups and assist in the earlier identification of the victims of human trafficking;reduce the burden on compliant labour providers and labour users and focus forensically on gross abuse of workers by unscrupulous gangmasters-whose crimes include tax evasion, trafficking, health and safety negligence and other serious crimes; streamline the process for issuing licences and remove the general requirement for an application inspection and associated fee, aim to reduce fees and charges and extend the licensing period from twelve months to two years or more for highly compliant businesses;remove from scope of the GLA, activities or sectors which are low risk, including: apprenticeships; forestry; cleaning contractors; land agents; and voluntary workers;provide for those with exclusive rights to use the seashore for shellfish cultivation to be able use their workers to grade and gather shellfish stock without needing to be licensed as a gangmaster. This measure would leave fully in scope of the Act activities such as the gathering of cockles from public shellfish beds;introduce administrative fines and penalties for low-level and technical minor offences, including a measure similar to a repayment order to achieve rapid reimbursement to an exploited worker of wages or other payment which has been removed;adopt an approach in respect of a labour user who uses an unlicensed gangmaster proportionate to the circumstances of the offence, for example the financial advantage gained and whether or not there has been abuse of the workers; andamend the structure of the Board of the GLA and introduce a smaller board to provide clear strategic leadership and direction to the GLA.
These changes will free up resources within the GLA to provide for greater effort to be focused on identifying and eliminating criminality in those sectors and activities covered by the authority, such as food processing, where exploitation of the most vulnerable workers is known to exist. In addition it will remove an estimated 150 current licence holders from the scope of the GLA, saving around £60,000 a year, and potentially reduce annual inspection charges from £300,000 a year to zero.