Gangmasters’ regulator set for reduced scope
Following a consultation, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has published plans to strip back certain powers of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA).
Regulations made under the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 stipulate how the GLA operates internally and define the scope and operation of its licensing and enforcement powers.
As part of a cross-government review of all regulatory laws and agencies, these regulations have come under scrutiny recently. A consultation, which ran from 26 April to 21 June, sought views on plans to change underpinning legislation to amend the scope and governance of the GLA. It also sought ideas for alternative sanctions that the GLA might employ to tackle transgressions from duty-holders.
Under the new plans the GLA will no longer have powers to regulate the forestry sector, volunteers working for charities, some apprentices, and individuals employed on government work programmes.
Agencies in these sectors will no longer have to apply for a gangmasters’ licence before they start operating, or be subject to inspections by the GLA. Additionally, the GLA will no longer carry out automatic inspections on every company that applies for a new GLA licence.
The TUC argues the move will put thousands of vulnerable workers at risk and encourage rogue employment agencies to flout basic worker rights.
It believes rather than reducing the scope of the GLA, the government should be extending the organisation’s remit to other high-risk sectors, including construction, hospitality and social care.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Cutting back inspections and stripping the GLA of powers will significantly increase the risk of rogue employers being granted a licence, under-cutting law-abiding agencies and abusing their workforces.
“Ministers are not cutting back on ‘red tape’, they are getting rid of vital employment protections.”
Regulations governing which sectors are excluded from licensing rules are expected to be introduced in the autumn, while changes to the GLA governance structure will take effect early next year.
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