MPs praise GLAA for hand car wash commitment
15th November 2018
A parliamentary report into hand car washes has recognised the work the GLAA is doing to help combat labour exploitation across the sector.
Thousands of hand car washes have sprung up across the country in recent years and there are concerns that many flout rules around the treatment and pay of workers, health and safety laws and environmental safeguards.
Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, which has been probing the issue, has today (15 November) published a report demanding operators be licensed to prevent the exploitation of workers and water pollution.
The committee, made up of MPs from all parties, wants greater co-ordinated enforcement by Government enforcement agencies to bring together all the major compliance conditions, under one, easily enforceable requirement.
It also calls for the Environment Agency to work with the GLAA and other enforcement bodies to ensure that unannounced inspections of hand car washes are comprehensively investigated.
And it says the Government should review whether the Modern Slavery Act 2015 could be updated to cover businesses as small as hand car washes.
EAC Chair Mary Creagh MP said: "Hand car washes are a common sight in our towns and cities. Yet they hide the widespread exploitation of workers through illegally low pay, poor working conditions and in some cases, forced labour. This is unacceptable.
"We were astonished and dismayed to discover that there have only been 14 minimum wage prosecutions since 1999. The Government must target the sector and prosecute exploitative employers. This would send a strong signal that worker exploitation has no place in the UK."
The EAC’s report said it noted the work the GLAA is doing to prevent labour exploitation in hand car washes. And it praised its role in the creation of the Responsible Car Wash Scheme – launched last month - in which major supermarkets have already signed up.
The report said: "We are encouraged that the GLAA and Director of Labour Market Enforcement are stepping up their efforts to tackle labour exploitation at hand car washes. Ensuring that hand car washes operating on the car parks of major supermarkets are compliant is the first step.
"We welcome the Responsible Car Wash Scheme. The public must have confidence that hand car washes at major supermarkets operate within the law."
GLAA Director of Strategy Darryl Dixon said: "The increased scrutiny and focus on hand car washes is to be welcomed because as the EAC points out, this is a sector where there is very often flagrant breaches of the law.
"We will study the report and its recommendations in full as I’m sure the other enforcement bodies will too.
"At the moment the GLAA does not have inspection powers outside our licensed sector so it is important we build support through a code of standards to improve compliance and protect workers.
"A crucial aspect of our support for the Responsible Car Wash Scheme is that those who are accredited agree to be inspected. This also assists us in ensuring that we deploy our enforcement officers to the most serious allegations of labour exploitation."