The government should resist trade union calls to extend the gangmaster licensing regulations to other sectors such as care homes, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has said.
The current licensing scheme focuses on the food industry but unions claim rogue operators are also providing foreign labour for construction sites and the cleaning industry, and waiting and cleaning staff for hotels and restaurants.
The Gangmasters Licensing Authority was set up after the deaths of 23 Chinese cockle-pickers at Morecambe Bay in February 2004 with concerns that gangmasters were unfairly treating migrants.
But REC director of external relations Tom Hadley said it was important to evaluate the effectiveness of the current licensing scheme before discussing any possible extension.
“We must focus on the best way of driving out the outlaws rather than simply adding extra costs on agencies that already comply with existing regulations and industry codes of practice,” he said.
The debate on protecting vulnerable workers needed to be widened in order to focus on rogue employers, as well as on rogue labour providers, Hadley added.