The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) was established on 1 April 2005 to curb the exploitation of workers in the agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering and associated processing and packaging industries. By licensing gangmasters (labour providers), everyone in the food supply chain will be able to distinguish the legal operators from the illegal ones.

The Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004

The Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 established:

  • the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) to operate a licensing scheme, set licensing conditions and maintain a register of licensed gangmasters (labour providers)
  • new offences including operating without a licence, engaging the services of an unlicensed gangmaster and using false documentation
  • a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison

The licensing scheme covers labour providers operating in the agriculture, horticulture, shellfish-gathering and associated processing and packaging sectors, and prevents anyone from acting as a gangmaster in these areas without a licence. It also makes it an offence for a person to enter into an arrangement with an unlicensed gangmaster.

The Act applies to gangmasters who provide people to undertake work which the Act covers anywhere in the United Kingdom, on any portion of the shore or bed of the sea, or of any estuary or tidal river adjacent to the UK, whether above or below the low water mark, or in UK coastal waters.

The Act includes businesses registered as employment agencies or employment businesses. It also applies to people using others to gather shellfish. The Act also provides for the making of regulations for the exclusion of certain activities from the licensing arrangements.

Enforcement

A number of offences were created by the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 including operating without a licence, engaging the services of an unlicensed gangmaster and using false documentation. Offences can attract a maximum penalty of 10 years in prision.

Enforcement will be carried out by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), thus providing a one-stop-shop approach to licensing and enforcement matters.

Legislation

The Gangmasters (Licensing Authority) Regulations 2005 came into effect on 1 April 2005 and governs the constitution of the Authority; the appointment of members; payment of remuneration and allowances; other matters in connection with the establishment and operation of the Authority.

The Gangmasters (Licensing Conditions) Rules 2009 establish the procedure for licensing those gangmasters covered by the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 and set out the conditions that will apply to licences. It specifies the information to be provided by an applicant for a licence and the fees applicable.

The Gangmasters (Appeals) Regulations (NI) 2006 and the Gangmasters (Appeals) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2006 provide for an appeals procedure against decisions of the GLA to refuse to grant a licence, to impose conditions to which a licence is subject, to modify or revoke a licence, or to refuse to transfer a licence.

The Gangmasters Licensing (Exclusions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 and 2014 set out the circumstances in which a licence is not required. With regard to exclusions, Government decided that certain mainstream agricultural activities should be excluded together with the supply of workers to undertake processing and packaging in catering, wholesale and retail outlets.

Activities excluded from the licensing arrangements

It has been decided that several mainstream agricultural activities should be excluded from the licensing requirements. It has also been agreed that the supply of workers to undertake the processing and packaging in catering, wholesale and retail outlets should be excluded.

With regard to food and drink processing, however, there will be no exclusions for labour providers operating in this sector.

Appeals

The Gangmasters (Appeals) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 and the Gangmasters (Appeals) (Amendment) Legislation (NI) 2006 provide for an appeals procedure against decisions of the GLA to refuse to grant a licence, to impose conditions to which a licence is subject, to modify or revoke a licence, or to refuse to transfer a licence. In Northern Ireland, appeals will be heard by chairmen appointed under Industrial Tribunals legislation.

A booklet entitled 'Guide for people making an appeal' is available and includes an application form which can be printed, completed and submitted to the contact details provided.

Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) contact details

You can contact the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) via the details below: 

Enforcement Team Manager – Northern Ireland
Gangmasters Licensing Authority
PO Box 10272
NOTTINGHAM
NG2 9PB

E-mail: licensing@gla.gsi.gov.uk
Website: http://www.gla.gov.uk/contact-us/

Telephone: 0345 602 5020 or 0044 345 602 5020 (outside the UK). Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm.

Further advice and guidance is available to labour providers via the Association of Labour Providers (ALP) website.

The relevant DAERA contact is:

GLA Sponsor Branch

Farm Policy Branch
Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA)
Room 917
Dundonald House
Upper Newtownards Road
BELFAST
BT4 3SB

E-mail: FarmPolicyBranch@daera-ni.gov.uk

Telephone: 028 9052 4477 or 028 9052 4012

Employing migrant workers in the agricultural sector

The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) has provided a checklist of action points when employing migrant workers in the Agricultural Sector.

Contact the Labour Relations Agency (LRA):

Labour Relations Agency (LRA)
2-16 Gordon Street
Belfast
BT1 2LG

Telephone: 028 9032 1442
E-mail: info@lra.org.uk
Website: https://www.lra.org.uk/contact

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