Boston business loses appeal over GLAA licence revocation
29th January 2019
A recruitment agency which had its Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) licence revoked has lost its appeal against the decision, with the judge stating that workers at the business were at risk of exploitation.
Go Solutions Ltd, of Main Ridge, Boston, had its licence revoked in December 2017 following compliance inspections by the GLAA earlier that year.
Inspectors discovered a multitude of failings, including 12 breaches of the GLAA’s licensing standards, five of which were serious enough on their own to cause the business to fail the inspection.
Principal authority Gavin Overton was judged by the GLAA to be not fit and proper, with officers concluding that he had no knowledge of the business he was supposed to be running. The inspections revealed that he could not even access office computer and payroll systems.
The GLAA considered Ricky Gutteson and Ian Tebbs to be in charge of the business. Both individuals had previously had licences refused or been named on licences which were refused. Mr Gutteson had been found to be not fit and proper and Mr Tebbs had previously worked for two licence holders revoked by the GLAA. The pair were again found to be not fit and proper following the inspection of Go Solutions.
Questions about Mr Overton's competency were heightened by his failure to explain the difference between the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage and not knowing where worker files were kept.
Finances in general were an area of great concern to the GLAA. Inspectors found that the company had not been making accurate VAT returns. They had also been employing people as self-employed even though HMRC had informed them twice that they could not be considered as that.
Payslips seen by the GLAA indicated that some workers at the business were not paid the National Minimum Wage and timesheets failed to show breaks taken by workers.
No records were kept about holiday pay as well as sick, maternity, paternity and adoption pay, which all workers are legally entitled to.
Basic health and safety issues were uncovered and the business did not know that workers must not be prevented from or penalised for joining a trade union.
Despite appealing the revocation, no-one from Go Solutions attended the employment tribunal held in Nottingham in December 2018.
Employment Judge Elizabeth Heap, in delivering her written conclusion this month, said: “The appellant’s workers might properly be classed as vulnerable workers given that the majority are Eastern European with little or no grasp of the English language.
“The lack of affording to them of basic rights as workers such as the right to be paid at the rate of the National Minimum Wage (which the appellant has failed to demonstrate in a number of cases by, amongst other things, a deficiency in records) and to ensure that they are paid the holiday pay to which they are entitled is demonstrative of an exploitation of those workers.”
GLAA Head of Licensing Charlotte Woodliffe said: “Protecting vulnerable workers and ensuring they get paid what they deserve is a fundamental part of our work. I am pleased that the judge has sent a strong signal to employers that serious non-compliance like this will not be tolerated under any circumstances.”
Acting as an unlicensed gangmaster is a criminal offence which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine.