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UK – Gangmaster closed down after string of failings

15 November 2013

A West Midlands gangmaster had his licence taken away after he flouted employment legislation by sending six agricultural workers to a mushroom farm for 20 consecutive days. Under the Working Time Regulations, Shenky Ltd, of Wolverhampton should have given the workers at least one day off for every seven days they worked.

When the business was inspected by officers from the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), the man in charge, Shorish Hamza, was found to be ‘incompetent and incapable’ of running a compliant recruitment business.

Aside from the issue with time off, the GLA uncovered a string of other problems and revoked the licence in April. However, Shenky appealed the decision, allowing the business to continue trading.

The company switched premises to Southgate, in London, and now the appeal has been withdrawn, activating the revocation and barring the business from supplying any workers to the areas regulated by the GLA.

The GLA works in partnership with other agencies to protect vulnerable people and prevent worker exploitation in agriculture, horticulture, food processing and packaging and shellfish gathering.

Shenky Ltd’s operations involved providing labour to a mushroom farm in Worcestershire.

Records showed that six employees who had worked 20 consecutive days only had one day off before returning to work for four days, after which they had another day off and returned to work for another seven days. Shenky Ltd also failed to arrange for the required first aid and welfare facilities for its workers in the fields. Contracts for the company’s employees were incomplete, inaccurate, or missing. 

Given the above factors, the GLA decided that Mr Hamza, who exhibited a distinct lack of knowledge on many aspects of operating a business, had failed to show he was competent enough to hold a licence.

As well as falling short on this critical requirement for a GLA licence, Shenky Ltd had accrued a tax debt of more than £230,000 when inspected, which failed another critical standard.

The business breached a third critical licensing standard by being unable to provide proof its workers had been paid the National Minimum Wage because salaries were paid in cash and the company did not provide pay slips.

A single critical standard breach – resulting in 30 penalty points - is sufficient for the GLA to revoke a licence. Shenky Ltd failed three along with eight non-critical standards resulting in a total of 154 points accruing sufficient points for the GLA to revoke the licence five times over. 

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