Gangmasters licensing

The licensing of gangmasters is governed by the following legislation:

  • The Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004;
  • The Gangmasters (Licensing Authority) Regulations 2005;
  • The Gangmasters (Appeals) Regulations 2006;
  • The Gangmasters (Licensing Conditions) Rules 2009;
  • The Gangmasters Licensing (Exclusions) Regulations 2010.

What is a gangmaster?

A gangmaster is a person who supplies a worker to another person, or uses a worker, to carry out the following types of work:

  • agricultural work;
  • gathering shellfish;
  • processing or packaging any produce derived from agricultural work, or shellfish, fish or products derived from shellfish or fish.

The Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 applies where such work is carried out in the United Kingdom, on any portion of the shore or bed of the sea, or of an estuary or tidal river, adjacent to the United Kingdom, or in United Kingdom coastal waters. The location of any gangmaster is irrelevant for the purpose of the Act.

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority

The Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 set up the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. The Gangmasters Licensing Authority is responsible primarily for the licensing of gangmasters and for ensuring that licensed gangmasters comply with their legal obligations.

Licensing of gangmasters

Subject to certain exceptions gangmasters are required to hold a licence. The exceptions are as follows:

  • where a worker processes or packs produce and is supplied to a catering establishment, a shop or other retail establishment, a wholesale market, a wholesale establishment or a distribution warehouse;
  • where a worker processes or packs a product which includes a derivative of produce but where the product concerned is not a food product, pet food product or a product which is primarily an agricultural, fish or shellfish product;
  • where an agricultural worker is supplied by one farmer to another farmer to do work on a farm which is the subject of a share farming agreement between the two farmers;
  • where an agricultural worker is supplied by one farmer to another farmer and the worker works for the second farmer not more than 30% of the total hours he worked for the first farmer in the twelve months immediately preceding the commencement of the period of work undertaken for the second farmer;
  • where an agricultural worker is supplied by one farmer to another farmer and the worker has been supplied to the first farmer by a licensed gangmaster and the supply is made with the gangmaster’s agreement as to the nature of the work to be undertaken for the second farmer and it is a one-off arrangement of less than two weeks;
  • where an agricultural worker is used by a farmer to provide a service to another farmer where the service provided involves a one-off arrangement of less than four weeks and the total hours the worker works delivering services to the second farmer are not more than 30% of the total hours the worker worked for the first farmer in the twelve months immediately preceding the commencement of the delivery of services to the second farmer;
  • where an agricultural worker is used by a farmer to provide a service to another farmer where the service provided involves a one-off arrangement of less than four weeks and the worker has been supplied to the first farmer by a licensed gangmaster and the supply is made with the gangmaster’s agreement as to the nature of the services to be provided to the second farmer;
  • where an agricultural worker is supplied by a farmer to another person to operate machinery supplied by that other person for the purpose of undertaking agricultural work for that farmer;
  • where an agricultural worker is supplied by a sole operator in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme to another Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme operator;
  • where an agricultural worker is used for agricultural work by a person to provide a service to a farmer where the service involves the use of machinery owned or hired by that person and the worker is employed by that person to operate or to support the operation of that machinery;
  • where an agricultural worker is used for agricultural work by a person to provide a service to a farmer where that person enters into an arrangement with another person to deliver the service, the service involves the use of machinery owned or hired by the second person and the worker is employed by the second person to operate or to support the operation of that machinery;
  • where an agricultural worker is used by a person to provide a food and drink processing and packaging service where that person is the worker’s employer, owns, hires or leases any equipment, tools or machinery used by the worker which are necessary to carry out the service and owns or leases the premises where the work is carried out;
  • where an agricultural worker is used to harvest crops by a person who has transferred title to the land on which the crops are grown, but has retained title to the crops;
  • where an agricultural worker, who is licensed under the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995, is supplied to slaughter animals;
  • where an agricultural worker is supplied by an educational establishment to undertake agricultural work solely in furtherance of education or training provided to the worker by that establishment leading to an agricultural qualification which, in relation to England, is a qualification to which Part 7 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 applies or which, in relation to Wales, is a relevant qualification within section 30 of the Education Act 1997;
  • where an agricultural worker is supplied by a person to a farmer to undertake agricultural work in which that worker is specialised where the worker holds a specific qualification at or above NVQ Level 2, or an equivalent qualification, which is relevant and necessary to ensure that the worker can effectively discharge the responsibilities that the worker will be required to undertake and the farmer employs the worker following the worker’s supply by that person and no more than four such workers are supplied to the farmer by that person at any one time;
  • where an agricultural worker is used for agricultural work by a person to provide a service to a farmer where the worker is a member of that person’s family (i.e. the worker is that person’s spouse or civil partner, a partner in an ensuring family relationship, a child, step-child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, brother or sister, or a child or step-child of a partner in an ensuring family relationship who lives with that person and is under the age of 18);
  • where a shellfish gatherer is used to dive with the aid of breathing apparatus to gather shellfish from the sea bed or to operate a net, dredge or other machinery used to gather shellfish from the sea bed, other than a hand net or hand-held rake, where the worker is using the net, dredge or other machinery on board a fishing vessel which is operating at sea;
  • where a worker is supplied by a body corporate to another body corporate or used by one body corporate to provide a service to another body corporate where both body corporates are wholly owned subsidiaries of the same body corporate, or one of the body corporates is a wholly owned subsidiary of the other and the worker is employed by the first body corporate under a contract of service.

Offences

A person who acts as a gangmaster without a licence commits a criminal offence.

A person also commits a criminal offence if he has in his possession or control, with the intention of inducing another to believe that he or another person is a licensed gangmaster:

  • a licence or document issued by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority in connection with a licence that is false and where he knows or believes that such documents are false;
  • a licence or document issued by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority in connection with a licence that has been improperly obtained and where he knows or believes to have been improperly obtained; or
  • a licence or document issued by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority in connection with a licence that relates to someone else.

It is also a criminal offence to enter into an arrangement for the supply of workers or services with an unlicensed gangmaster.

Conspiring, attempting, inciting, aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of once of these offences is in itself an offence.

The penalty upon conviction of one of these offences is a fine and/ or imprisonment.