Retailers’ suppliers have been told they should pay gangmasters at least £6.30 per worker per hour to cover pay and other essential costs - and retailers have been urged to make sure they do.
The figure is based on a worker receiving the national minimum wage of £4.85/hour with the rest going to cover employer’s NI contributions, sick and holiday pay, transport and administration.
While this figure applies to workers employed for packing and manual harvest work, those hired for other agricultural duties must get the agricultural minimum wage of £5.40/hour.
The gangmaster in this case should get at least £7.02/hour, said Defra. With the gangmaster’s
profit and management costs factored in, suppliers should pay at least £6.79/hour for packing and harvesting and £7.56/hour for other farm work.
The figures are based on a regulatory impact assessment
commissioned by Defra last year in preparation for the establishment of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority on April 1.
From that date it will be illegal for a gangmaster to operate without a licence, or for someone to hire one who does not have a licence.
GLA chairman Paul Whitehouse said retailers now knew how much their suppliers should pay labour providers and should use their open-book accounting systems to ensure rates did not fall below that.
“It’s perfectly proper to squeeze your supplier when there are ways of doing things better. But the retailers need to build into their systems recognition of the real costs of labour so the supplier is not squeezed improperly.
“The supermarkets have said they want to do things properly and we applaud that. But if they choose to ignore what we say then we shall be suspicious of their motives.”
Richard Clarke