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UK – Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority announces licencing changes

05 August 2013

From October 1st 2013 the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) will move away from mandatory inspections for all new license applicants, to a risk-based system. The GLA will use their discretion to decide whether a physical site inspection is required on a case by case basis, according to the Recruitment Employment Confederation (REC). 

Certain criteria will still trigger an automatic inspection – notably where an applicant has previously had a license refused or revoked, or where checks with other government departments come back with adverse findings. However, the GLA has advised that they expect that applications falling into this ‘always inspect’ category will be in the minority.

It is anticipated that there will be a small increase in automatic refusals without inspection. Part of this package of changes means that where the GLA finds clear evidence of recent non-compliance or criminality through initial intelligence checks, it is probable that they will turn down the application outright rather than waste staff resource with a site inspection that confirms what they already know.

The REC has called this is a welcome change that will help keep criminals out of the regulated sector and help compliant businesses compete on a level footing.

For the majority of applicants, however, it will be up to the GLA to decide whether a license can be granted on the strength of the application and checks with other government departments alone, or whether inspectors will still need to pay a visit.

This bodes well for administrative applications: a growing business making the transition from sole trader to limited company could well be granted a license without having to undergo another application inspection as a new legal entity, provided the GLA are happy the change is being made for legitimate reasons. Likewise, an agency whose business in the regulated sector dried up and who let their license lapse as a result may be able to get their license back without having to be re-inspected, provided they reapply within six months of the license lapsing and have a clear history of compliance.

These changes have been implemented for two reasons. On the one hand, the government has been clear with their Red Tape Challenge that they want to see the burden on compliant businesses lessened. This change to the application process is the first step on that journey.

More importantly, however, this is about the effective use of limited resource. The GLA, like every other government department, has to do more with less, and they estimate that this move to discretionary inspections will free up 960 staff days per year. Resulting in a highly-trained, highly-experienced resource that can be redeployed to help combat the growing threats of organised crime and human trafficking in the labour supply chain, and on rooting out those labour providers that continue to operate outside of the licensing system altogether.

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