Southampton recruitment agency loses GLAA licence
14th February 2020
The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) has revoked a licence with immediate effect after investigators uncovered a number of serious failings during an inspection.
Southampton-based First Choice Recruitment (South) Limited will now be unable to supply workers into any of the GLAA regulated sectors, with the prospect of criminal prosecution if it does not comply.
A GLAA compliance investigation found a total of six breaches of the authority's licensing standards, half of which were serious enough on their own for the recruitment agency to have its licence revoked.
GLAA officers were concerned that directorship of First Choice had twice changed hands since 2018 without the business notifying the authority within the required 20 working day timeframe.
These concerns caused the GLAA to decide that First Choice had not been candid in its dealings with them, nor had demonstrated a willingness to comply with its regulations.
Further issues were discovered involving nominated Principal Authority (PA) Izabela Zalasinska, who was put forward for the role by company director Adnaan Hussain.
During the inspection, the GLAA found that Miss Zalasinska could not provide information about basic employment rights such as holiday pay and entitlement, workplace pensions, and overtime pay.
Inspectors noted she also failed to demonstrate she had control over the finances of the business and the inspection revealed separate failings relating to data protection, grievance policies, and workers' contracts.
Workers interviewed as part of the inspection told the GLAA that issues around missing payslips and incorrect wages remained unresolved.
In taking all this into consideration, the GLAA concluded that Miss Zalasinska did not have the required competence to be PA of a licensed business.
HMRC also confirmed to the GLAA that the business owed substantial Crown debt.
GLAA officers wrote to First Choice in January 2020 informing the business that its licence would be revoked.
No appeal was received by the authority within the required period.
GLAA Director of People and Licensing Nicola Ray said: "During our inspection, we uncovered six breaches of our licensing standards, three of which were critical, and left us with no option but to revoke First Choice's licence.
"Our licensing standards exist primarily to ensure vulnerable workers are protected and paid what they deserve. Where we have concerns this is not happening, we will take appropriate action as we have done here to fully enforce our regulations."
It is a criminal offence to act as a gangmaster without a licence. The offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and an unlimited fine.