Scaling back the Gangmasters – how the Red Tape Challenge reached the GLA

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), which has protected temporary workers in farming, shellfish gathering, and food processing since 2005, is to be scaled down and refocused.

The changes will concentrate on stamping out the high-risk, criminal labour providers with links to serious crime and human trafficking.

Agriculture Minister, Jim Paice announced how vulnerable workers will be better protected by the freeing-up of GLA resources, because their inspectors are able to take action where it is most needed. The changes are a response to the Red Tape Challenge.

The TUC have flagged warnings that removing the initial inspection could ‘reduce protection for many vulnerable workers’. However, GLA’s Director of Strategy Darryl Dixon has confirmed that some gangmasters will still be inspected if checks on other government databases alert any suspicions. The licensing authority has been trialling a ‘light touch’ inspection regime for the past year.

A great many legitimate companies who apply to supply or use groups of workers will be very pleased about the proposed GLA changes and this scaling back. Responsible and highly compliant employers who play by the rules will be freed from unnecessary costs and bureaucracy, allowing them to get on with the important job of running their business. Defra are now working up the implementation details, taking into account the outstanding Department for Business Innovation and Skills’ review of Workplace Compliance and Enforcement Rights.

The removal of regulatory burdens and the extension of licensing periods from twelve months to two years are welcomed by the Association of Recruitment Consultancies (ARC). However ARC believes that it would also be helpful in the refocus if there were to be a published code of conduct to which the GLA must comply, having historically been subject to criticism for over zealous investigations where no proper and reasonable cause has existed.