GLA urges recruiters to check licenses
Limited numbers of nationals from these two countries have been entitled to work in the UK in recent years under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS).
However, from January 1, Bulgarians and Romanians will have the legal right to live and work in Britain under European & lsquo;freedom of movement’ rules. The law change gives them the same rights as other accession states.
As a result, there may be an increase in overseas companies offering to supply workers from Romania and Bulgaria to perform roles in the UK.
The GLA is keen to issue a reminder to UK labour users that a valid gangmaster’s licence is required by any business – from home or overseas – supplying workers into the authority’s regulated sector.
This applies to workers in agriculture, horticulture, food and drink processing and packaging or shellfish gathering.
It is a criminal offence both to act as a gangmaster without a licence and to employ workers provided by an unlicensed operator. Either offence can lead to a custodial sentence.
It is therefore imperative that UK labour users ensure any company approaching them with an intention to supply workers holds a current and valid GLA licence.
If they do not hold a licence then please inform the GLA’s intelligence team. Your call could help prevent the exploitation of vulnerable workers.
Any information given will be treated in the strictest confidence and will be passed on to labour inspectorates in the relevant countries.
A useful indicator of whether a labour provider is legitimate are the Minimum Charge Rates. These are published on the GLA website and give an indication of the amounts users should expect to be charged for workers.
The rates are purely intended as a guide and, depending on its business model, a labour provider could charge less than the rates published. However, any figure significantly less than the published rates should raise concerns of non-compliance to reduce costs and in these cases, users are advised to check if the supplier is licensed with the GLA.
You can find out who holds a current licence quickly and easily on the GLA’s up-to-date online public register at www.gla.defra.gov.uk.
It is possible to view that register by clicking & lsquo;See who has a licence’ in the panel on the right of the home page.
A further option available to the public is the GLA’s & lsquo;active check’ service, which allows you to register for alerts about specific licence-holders.
Under this system, emails are subsequently sent if there is any change in the status of a licence held by a specified company.
You can register for active checks and get answers to any queries or concerns about who requires or holds a current GLA licence by calling the helpline on 0845 602 5020 and selecting & lsquo;option 1’.