Temporary licences to be issued during coronavirus outbreak

The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) has introduced a temporary licensing scheme to ensure critical food supply sectors are able to run as smoothly as possible during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Temporary licences for food production will be granted to businesses operating within the wider labour supply industry and who wish to support labour providers who currently hold GLAA licences.

Applications must be sponsored by an existing GLAA licence holder who is expected to carry out due diligence checks in line with the authority’s licensing standards.

Decisions will be made by the GLAA on a case-by-case basis. All applications will undergo rigorous risk-based checks but the GLAA will aim to make decisions within five working days.

Temporary licences will be issued for a period lasting up to three months, unless the coronavirus situation changes.

There are currently no plans to impose an application or inspection fee for this scheme.

If temporary licence holders wish to supply workers for a longer period, they must complete the licence application form and pay the application fee before the end of the three months.

Certain activities are also excluded from needing a GLAA licence. This includes cases where a labour provider transfers their workers to another employer at no cost because there is no work for them. Guidance on this can be read here.

GLAA Head of Regulation Nicola Ray said: “These are unprecedented times for us all and it is important that we recognise the need for greater flexibility in food processing and packaging while at the same time maintaining our core commitment to protect vulnerable and exploited workers.

“We realise this is a very difficult time for businesses. We are determined to support those who follow our licensing standards and have done so ever since they became licence holders. We will do all we can to help legitimate businesses as they continue to provide goods and services this country relies on.

“Labour providers are expected to continue to fully comply with our licensing standards during this period. We will investigate anyone who attempts to circumvent our licensing scheme and will not hesitate to revoke licences or prosecute businesses for unlicensed trading.

“It is important to stress that there will be a zero-tolerance approach to anyone we find attempting to profit from exploiting vulnerable workers at this challenging time. Where we find examples of this, we will act swiftly and decisively to put a stop to it.”

David Camp, Chief Executive of the Association of Labour Providers, said: “ALP welcomes the introduction of the GLAA temporary licensing scheme at this time of severe challenge for the food supply chain. It will enable the wider UK recruitment sector to direct workers towards GLAA licensed labour providers and supply the labour needed to keep the nation fed.”

Shayne Tyler, Group Compliance Director, Fresca Group, said: “This is a welcome step from the GLAA at a time of significant stress for our industry as it works hard to feed the nation.

“We are pleased that the workers will continue to be employed under the current regulations and urge labour users to be extra vigilant in monitoring the welfare of their workers. Furthermore, we encourage workers new to our industry to raise concerns at the earliest opportunity.”

Mark Harrison, Policy Manager for Employment and Access to Labour at the Food and Drink Federation, said: “The FDF and its members are committed to sourcing labour responsibly whilst meeting the current heightened demand of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We welcome the GLAA’s recognition of the need to increase labour supply into the food and drink sector whilst continuing to protect workers. Increasing the supply of labour into the sector will help ensure demand continues to be met in the coming weeks and months.”

More information on the scheme and how to apply can be found on the GLAA website.

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