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Sheep Shearers

Volume 684: debated on Thursday 20 July 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has ruled that sheep shearers from overseas working in the United Kingdom, either on a work permit or on a working holiday visa, will be subject to licensing under gangmaster legislation; and whether the department has previously indicated to the National Association of Agricultural Contractors that such workers would be exempt from the legislation.[HL6934]

Direct employment of sheep shearers by a labour user is outside the scope of the Gangmasters Licensing Act 2004. The Act does apply where sheep shearers are supplied to a labour user by a third party, such as a sheep shearing contractor.

However, after reviewing the terms of the Gangmasters Licensing (Exclusions) Regulations 2006, we have concluded that the exemption applicable to the use of a worker by an agricultural machinery service provider in order to deliver a machinery service (paragraph 8 of the schedule to the regulations) also applies to sheep shearers. This conclusion is based on the view that the clippers supplied for use by the shearers are defined as machinery for the purpose of interpreting the terms of this provision. In view of this, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) has confirmed that contractors who supply sheep shearers and provide the machinery they use do not need to obtain a gangmasters licence.

The GLA will be monitoring the terms of this exemption to ensure that it is not exploited by unscrupulous labour providers determined to avoid the licensing requirement. If it is deemed necessary to revise the terms of the exemption to close any potential loophole, we will ensure that the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) and other interested parties are consulted on the proposals brought forward for this purpose.

I can confirm that I wrote to the NAAC in July to inform them of the GLA's approach to sheep shearing contractors.