What is the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority?

The Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) is a non-departmental public body governed by an independent board. The role of the GLAA is to protect potentially vulnerable workers from exploitation. They do this in six main ways:

  • By disrupting criminal activity in the labour market
  • Identifying and supporting labour exploitation victims
  • Minimising and managing risks by engaging with stakeholders
  • Working in partnership to maintain the protection of workers’ rights and preventing labour exploitation
  • Supporting compliant businesses
  • Maintaining a credible licensing scheme – the GLAA licence.

To become a GLAA Licence certified employer, businesses must undergo an inspection by a GLAA office to make sure they meet the licensing standards.

What are the GLAA Licence standards?

Shred Station is pleased to be the holder of a Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority Licence Certificate. So, what standards must businesses meet to receive this certification?

The GLAA Licensing Standards cover the following areas:

Fit and Proper Test

The Fit and Proper Test is an assessment of “all relevant factors in considering whether a licence holder acts in a fit and proper manner”. Some of these relevant factors include any previous contraventions of other regulatory authority’s standards. Company directors and officers also receive a criminal record check. General business administration is assessed, too. For instance, how accurate a company has been when informing the GLAA of any changes to business details such as address or VAT number changes.

Pay and Tax Matters

The second standard involves verification of a businesses’ pay and tax information. For instance, the GLAA will look into the businesses’ general record keeping, such as HMRC registration and National Insurance information. They also check that staff are receiving at least the National Minimum/Living Wage as well as timely, itemised payslips. The GLAA also checks that staff receive other pay they are legally entitled to. For example, maternity, paternity and adoption pay, sick pay, holiday pay, and pension contributions for appropriate workers.

Prevention of Forced Labour and Mistreatment of Workers

The third standard states that GLAA licence holders must not harm workers either physically or mentally. This includes threats, abuse of vulnerabilities, deception about the nature of the work, pay, or living conditions, as well as physical and sexual violence. There should also be no restriction of a worker’s movement, debt bondage, or withholding a worker’s ID documents from them. The worker should be free to leave, seek other employment, and the employer should not force them to work against their will. Employers must also never withhold wages.


The fourth standard pertains to accommodation. If a licence holder provides accommodation, it must be safe for occupants. All accommodation should be in a good state of repair and must contain adequate kitchen and bathroom facilities. It must not be overcrowded, and any Category 1 hazards should be assessed under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System and promptly solved. Any accommodation must have proper licensing and registration. Also, any travel to and from accommodation must be paid for by the licence holder.

Working Conditions

The GLAA also assesses general working conditions. Some of these conditions include making sure workers can take their legally entitled rest periods and breaks. Companies must not force workers to work more than 48 hours per week on average unless the worker mutually agrees to this in writing. Additionally, companies must not prevent workers from becoming a member of a trade union. If they are a member of a trade union, the employer must not penalise them for this. Any information about workers, including personal data such as trade union membership, should be treated with confidentiality under the Data Protection Act. Licence holders should also not unlawfully discriminate against any workers or candidates, and equal opportunities should be monitored.

Health and Safety

The sixth standard focuses on health and safety in the workplace. While all workplaces will have different health and safety requirements, day-to-day health and safety should always be managed by a responsible person, or persons, with suitable risk assessments and controls. Companies should provide workers with proper training to keep them safe from the risk of any accidents, and should provide appropriate PPE. Companies should also supply first aid and keep a record of accident reporting.

Recruiting Workers and Contractual Arrangements

Standard seven focuses on recruiting workers and contractual agreements. Employers must make sure workers have a right to work in the UK, plus all regular recruitment procedures should be followed. They must also ensure any workers are not charged a fee for work-finding services. All records of recruitment services must be retained for at least one year, and until data retention periods have been met.

Sub-Contracting and Using Other Labour Providers

The final standard is simple. All GLAA licence holders who sub-contract labour must make sure the labour provider also holds a GLAA licence. Under section 13 of the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004, using an unlicensed gangmaster is a criminal offence. Failing this standard may lead to immediate revocation of the GLAA licence.

To comply with the above licensing standards and continue to maintain a GLAA Licence, labour providers must meet all of the standards appropriate to their business.

At Shred Station, we are proud to be a certified Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority licence holder and ethically responsible employer.

If you wish to read the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority’s Licensing Standards Booklet: https://www.gla.gov.uk/media/5963/licensing-standards-october-2018-final-reprint-jan-2020.pdf

If you’d like to read the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority’s Headline Trends for the Recycling & Waste Industry: https://www.gla.gov.uk/media/5080/industry-profile-recycling-and-waste-disposal.pdf

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