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Labour promises new division to extend GLA’s work

The Labour Party has promised to set up a new division of the Home Office to work alongside the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA).
The division would investigate suspected exploitation of local and migrant workers across all industry sectors and not just those currently under the GLA’s remit. The hospitality and social care sectors might be a particular focus, Recruiter can reveal.
In its election manifesto, released last week, Labour said it would extend the remit of the GLA, stopping short of an earlier promise to introduce “basic standards” licensing for recruitment agencies, as well as banning recruiters from only hiring workers from overseas. The GLA currently regulates the supply of workers in the shellfish gathering, horticulture, agriculture, fresh food, and process and packaging sectors. 
In a speech on immigration at the weekend, Labour leader Ed Miliband vowed as prime minister he would make it a criminal offence to undercut the pay or conditions of local workers by exploiting migrant workers. The new division or unit he would introduce would be based in the Home Office, consisting of at least 100 officers who would enforce the new rules.
Asked whether the unit would spell the end for the GLA, given the new Home Office division’s remit would be to tackle exploitation of all workers across sectors, a Labour spokeswoman told Recruiter the party sees the two bodies “working very closely” together. 
“We are certainly not talking about abolishing the GLA. We think they have got a really important role to play. We would like to extend where they can do that role and the sectors they work in.
“This unit is to complement and add to what they do.”
According to the spokesperson, the new unit would also support operations in enforcing payment of the National Minimum Wage.
Asked which industries the unit might look into, the spokeswoman added the UK’s hospitality and social care sectors could come under greater scrutiny especially.
“It might look at covering the social care sector,” she said. “These are things we need to work out in detail but the enforcement unit might look at the social care sector and potentially hotels, in places where we know there has been exploitation.
“That might be the kind of thing this unit could work on at that is beyond what the GLA is doing.”
And firms falling foul of the rules could find themselves facing fines of up to £30k for employing illegal workers as Labour has also committed to trebling current financial penalties in place.
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