Beware unlicensed gangmasters employing Bulgarians

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Beware unlicenced gangmasters offering Bulgarian and Romanian workers, food firms have been warned
Beware unlicenced gangmasters offering Bulgarian and Romanian workers, food firms have been warned

Related tags United kingdom Uk

Food and drink manufacturing employers across the UK employing temporary staff have been warned about employing Bulgarian and Romanian workers from unlicensed gangmasters, ahead of immigration rule changes that come into effect in 2014.

Restricted numbers of workers from Bulgaria and Romania have been entitled to work in the UK in recent years under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS).

However, from January 1, Bulgarians and Romanians will have the legal right to live and work in Britain under European ‘freedom of movement’ rules. The law change gives them the same rights as other accession states.

As a result, there may be an increase in overseas companies offering to supply workers from Romania and Bulgaria to perform roles in the UK, warns the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), which regulates gangamasters.

Valid gangmaster’s licence

The GLA has reminded UK labour users that a valid gangmaster’s licence is required by any business – from home or overseas – supplying workers into the GLA’s regulated sector. This applies to workers in agriculture, horticulture, food and drink processing and packaging or shellfish gathering.

It is a criminal offence both to act as a gangmaster without a licence and to employ workers provided by an unlicensed operator. Either offence can lead to a custodial sentence.

It is therefore imperative that UK labour users ensure any company approaching them with an intention to supply workers holds a current and valid licence, the GLA has warned. If they do not hold a licence then the GLA’s intelligence team should be informed, it added.

Strictest confidence

The GLA stressed that any information given would be treated in the strictest confidence and would be passed on to labour inspectorates in the relevant countries.

A useful indicator of whether a labour provider is legitimate or not are the Minimum Charge Rates, which are published on the GLA website​ and give an indication of the amounts users should expect to be charged for workers.

While only a guide and a labour provider could charge less than the rates published, if they are significantly less than the published rates, this should raise concerns and users should check that the supplier is licensed with the GLA​.

For the latest temporary and full time jobs in UK food and drink manufacturing, visit our sister website Foodmanjobs​.

Meanwhile, is relaxing the freedom of movement rules for Bulgarian and Romanian workers a good idea? Test your views against those of other industry professionals below.

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