AN employment agency has warned that a labour shortage in bakery factories is looming with new gangmasters legislation coming into effect on 1 October. From that date it will

become an imprisonable offence to supply labour to the food industry unless the labour provider holds a licence from the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA).

With less than three months until this deadline, only around a third of labour providers who fall under the remit of the GLA have been granted licences. That’s the warning from agency Vital Recruitment, which supplies labour to the fresh produce, engineering and construction industries. Bakery production sites will also be hit, particularly those which rely on temporary staff in the run up to Christmas, it said.

The GLA was formed on 1 April, 2005, in the wake of the Morecambe Bay disaster, in which 23 Chinese cocklers died. It aims to allow everyone in the food supply chain to be able to distinguish the reputable labour providers from the illegal ones, preventing the exploitation of workers in industries such as agriculture, shellfish gathering and factory labour.

Any company caught using the services of an unlicensed labour provider after this deadline could face up to 51 weeks in prison and a fine.

Vital Recruitment was one of the first employment agencies in the UK to be awarded the GLA licence.