Minister Confirms Outcome of Red Tape Challenge: Continued need for the GLA to enforce protection of workers’ rights.
24th May 2012
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, Jim Paice MP, today confirmed in a written ministerial statement that the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) will continue to enforce the rights of vulnerable workers. In recognising the great deal of valuable work the GLA has done to date, Mr Paice revealed that he proposed to bring forward measures to ensure that the GLA can become more focused on the worst excesses of worker exploitation in the agricultural sector.
The GLA will increase its joint working with other agencies involved in stamping out the serious organised crime activities involved in trafficking human beings, money laundering, tax evasion and other serious organised crimes.
To achieve this increased focus on the serious criminal elements in the supply of labour to the food and food processing sector, the GLA will deploy its resources and modify its processes in a way that relieves the burden of regulation from highly compliant businesses but targets the criminals through improved intelligence gathering.
In addition, based on the experience of GLA enforcement over the last few years, the Minister announced that some sectors of the agricultural economy will be removed from the scope of regulation by the GLA, subject to the necessary public consultation.
In welcoming the outcome of the Red Tape Challenge, Margaret McKinlay, Chair of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority said:
“The rigorous Red Tape Challenge process has shown that there is a continuing need for the work of the GLA. The GLA plays a vital role in protecting the interests of vulnerable workers. I welcome the emphasis on tackling serious organised crime and the closer working with all our partner enforcement bodies. These changes will reduce the burden on the highly compliant and remove from regulation areas where the risk is low. However, we will stamp down hard and effectively on the criminal element which blights the legitimate activity of labour supply in the UK agriculture economy.”
Notes to editors
1. The GLA has been considered under the Employment Theme of the Government’s Red Tape Challenge.
2. In December 2011 Lord Taylor confirmed that the Red Tape Challenge Ministerial Star Chamber had endorsed in principle the need for the GLA to continue to enforce protection for vulnerable workers, while requiring it to look at reducing burden on compliant operators. Today’s statement from Jim Paice MP sets out the detailed proposals.
3. Defra will now work up detailed proposals and consult on them within the next year.
4. The consultation will take into account the outstanding Department for Business Innovations and Skills review of Workplace Compliance and Enforcement Rights.
5. Until any legislative changes are implemented, which remove sectors from the scope of licensing, the requirement to hold a licence remains law.
6. It is a criminal offence to provide labour in the industries regulated by the GLA without a licence. It is also an offence to use labour provided by unlicensed labour providers.
7. The GLA was set up to curb the exploitation of workers in the agricultural, horticultural, shellfish gathering and associated processing and packing industries. The Act establishing it was passed in 2004.
8. Protecting workers is the key aim alongside protecting legitimate labour providers and protecting the tax payer by uncovering unpaid taxes.
9. The GLA regulate the supply of workers and labour services to any of the regulated sectors in the UK.
10. Other bodies with whom GLA works include all UK police Forces, HM Revenue and Customs, UK Borders Agency, Serious Organised Crime Agency, UK Human Trafficking Agency and the Health and Safety Executive.
11. Margaret McKinlay, GLA Chair and Ian Livsey, GLA Chief Executive are available for interview.
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