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Top tips on using gangmasters

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With the busy growing season fast approaching, everyone involved in food production and distribution is being reminded about the rules for using gangmasters.

Chris Brooks, Wychavon District Councils Regeneration Manager, has pulled together a list of tips and advice. Hes drawn on some of the issues around labour providers that were raised at the recent Grow In Confidence conference, organised for local agricultural businesses by the rural Worcestershire council.

Chris said: Everyone involved in food production and distribution needs to know about the rules and advice on the use of gangmasters.  Remember – even if you do not use gangmasters, your supply chain will.

The top tip when using a labour provider or gangmaster is to always take steps to ensure workers are legally in the UK and have the right to work here. The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) was set up to stamp out illegal practice in the supply of labour, and the first step for anyone using a gangmaster is to make sure they have a GLA license.  

Chris said: Simply knowing that a gangmaster is licensed is not enough.  A licence, or indeed an inspection carried out by the GLA or any other body, should be viewed like an MOT good on the day it was issued, but not something that guarantees ongoing compliance.

Other things to consider before agreeing a contract with a gangmaster are:  

  • Always use a licensed gangmaster.  Failure to do so is a criminal offence 

  • Use the GLAs Active Check service, by calling 0845 602 5020 or going to http://gla.defra.gov.uk/. This will give you a direct link to the GLAs database, so you can discover any change to the status of your gangmaster.  Remember to sign up for an active check for any new labour provider you are considering working with 

  • Check the status of each person entering your workplace.  There were several instances last year of gangmasters supplying illegal labour in the Wychavon area.  You must demonstrate your efforts in doing all you can to prevent illegal working at your business.  This includes checking passports, visas, or other forms of ID.  The passport is the best option.  If in any doubt on any issues relating to legal status, contact the UK Borders Agency employers helpline on 0300 123 4699 

  • Make your contract with your gangmaster absolutely watertight.  Ask to see details of any inspections they have had make it a condition of the contract that they share any inspection reports or certificates with you.  Ask to see records of payments to workers.  If they dont want to comply with this, you should be suspicious.  If they have nothing to hide they will be happy to cooperate.  

Remember, any illegal activity can have a damaging effect on the whole sector and the wider area in terms of lost reputation as well as lost contracts.

Chris said: If you are aware of illegal activity, please do report it.  

Chris is able to supply examples of contracts and systems used by local labour users. Hes also keen to hear from local producers about what theyd like to see covered at the follow-up event to the Grow In Confidence conference. Chris can be contacted on 01385 565343 or at chris.brooks@wychavon.gov.uk.

 

  • Wychavon is a rural area of south Worcestershire, which includes the towns of Droitwich Spa, Evesham and Pershore
  • For more information on the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, go to http://gla.defra.gov.uk/

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