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The Gangmasters Licensing Authority

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) was set up in April 2005 to end the exploitation of workers in the agriculture, horticulture, shellfish-gathering and associated processing and packaging activities.

In April 2006 the GLA began operating a licensing scheme for labour providers (gangmasters) supplying workers into these industries. Because of different employment practices, separate arrangements are required in the shellfish-gathering sector and these come into force in October.

Under the Act it will be an offence for anyone to act as a gangmaster in these sectors without a valid and current licence. It will also be an offence for a labour user to enter into an arrangement for the supply of workers with an unlicensed gangmaster.

The objective of the regulations is to protect workers and legitimate businesses operating in the sector without imposing an unnecessary and onerous regulatory burden. It does this by removing from the proposed licensing arrangements those activities that do not involve the supply of gang labour or for which there is no significant evidence of exploitation of workers.

The new licensing scheme will ensure labour providers meet minimum employment standards required by law including relevant health and safety legislation; with which labour providers should be fully aware. Overall, the GLA’s standards represent a reasonable range of measures that should already be largely in place in any well-run labour provider business.

The GLA will seek to identify and tackle the abuse of workers and enforce the licensing regime through inspection and compliance (enforcement) activity.

The legislation will help to tackle illegal activity and exploitation by gangmasters including fraud and other forms of non-compliance, by promoting the employment of legitimate workers and fair competition between labour providers. By licensing labour providers, it is hoped that everyone in the food chain will ultimately be able to distinguish the legal operators from the illegal ones.

If you are concerned that a labour provider is failing to meet the standards or is operating without a licence you should contact the GLA. Further information on the licensing regimes can also be found on the GLA website at

Finally, remember that it will be an offence to provide labour into agriculture and horticulture including associated processing and packaging activities without a licence from October 2006. Any labour provider who is uncertain about whether or not he/she requires a licence is urged to contact the GLA for advice.