ALP: The First 20 Years

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Association of Labour Providers

The First 20 Years

About ALP

Labour providers play a vital role in the UK economy by supplying workers for the consumer goods supply chain. The Association of Labour Providers (ALP) is the specialist trade association for labour providers; promoting responsible recruitment to ensure the provision, use and management of labour in our sectors is recognised as a model of global good practice.

Key policy focus areas are:

1. Supply Chain Partner – Driving awareness of the crucial role labour providers undertake in supply chains through the sourcing and supply of a high calibre future workforce

2. Access to Labour – Promoting national policy actions and developing industry capability to maintain ongoing access to an adequate labour supply at all skill levels

3. Fair Charge Rates – Promoting payment of fair charge rates to labour providers that enable business sustainability and do not foster worker exploitation or tax evasion

4. Fair to Workers – Supporting labour providers to meet legal and ethical responsibilities and to treat workers fairly and with respect

5. Fair Competition – Support for clear and proportionate regulation of labour provision that facilitates fair competition

6. Responsible Recruitment – Leading a stakeholder partnership approach to drive continuous improvement in responsible recruitment standards applied by labour providers

2 ALP - The first 20 years | About ALP
3 ALP - The first 20 years | Contents Contents About ALP 2 Contents 3 Introduction 4 ALP Timeline 2001 In the beginning 5 2002 The Temporary Labour Working Group 6 2003 Representation required 7 2004 Birth of the Association of Labour Providers 8 2005 GLA formally established 9 2006 GLA user group established 10 2007 David Camp takes the helm 11 2008 Complyer - agency labour best practice and audit tool 12 2009 Roadshows and representation successes 13 2010 Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (AWR) 14 2011 GLA and AWR 15 2012 Engagement and taking stock 16 2013 Changes at the top and Stronger Together 17 2014 Collaboration 19 2015 The Modern Slavery Act 20 2016 Webinars and regional meetings 21 2017 Labour supply issues and DLME 22 2018 Responsible Recruitment 23 2019 Open to Opportunity and Brexit 24 2020 Coronavirus – social distancing, unprecedented times, and the new normal 25 2021 Embracing the digital age 26 2022 Engagement and labour shortages 28 2023 A change at the top and the legislative burden increases 29 2024 20 years of ALP 30 2024 The Future 31


As the ALP turns 20, the last few years have given us the most challenging business environment in our history – Brexit, the impact of a new immigration system, a global pandemic, continuing labour shortages and a cost-of-living crisis.

Amidst the constant change it is sometimes difficult to remember where we came from.

Back in 2004 when the ALP started, the environment was very different for labour providers (they weren’t even called labour providers!), and very different for the UK’s flexible workforce.

As we look towards the future and think about how to build back better, we think it is worth remembering how far we have come...

ALP - The first 20 years | Introduction

ALP Timeline... 2001

In the beginning

At the beginning of the millennium, different organisations were starting to pay serious attention to how workers were treated in the food and agriculture supply chain.

There were major changes happening in industry. Sunday opening for shops, promotions driven production and the continuing commercialisation of Christmas and other events all contributed to factories working longer hours. Lean manufacturing and process improvements meant production lines were faster and more flexible, all leading to an expansion in the use of temporary and seasonal workers, and therefore the labour providers that supplied them.

Retailers were having increasing right to work issues in their supply chains and unannounced inspections of their factories and fields were widely and sensationally reported in the press, fuelling concerns over reputational risk and consumer confidence.

Temporary agency labour was seen as a cheap option and there was little or no regulation to manage any of these issues.

Trade unions and police were beginning to uncover the realities of where our labour came from and how the people that pick and process our crops were treated.

The Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC), with the support of retailers, had created guidance for its members on how to engage and manage agency workers, Marks and Spencer were running workshops in East Anglia and The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) were engaging with retailers and labour users. All were lobbying government on the need for legislation to protect workers and all realised that the issue was too big for one organisation to manage.

Louise Nicholls was working with M&S at the time, and remembers that in the fields of East Anglia, many labour providers simply didn’t have the basic processes and procedures in place that they would need to run responsible businesses:

‘Back in 2001 what we were really seeing is people who were operating out of the back of vans with no register of people or hours and poor right to work checks if they were checking at all.’

There were no real business relationships as we know them today and no strategy behind the use of labour providers – it was very much a last-minute reactive thing to cover labour shortfalls – no recognition that there was a person at the end of the process’.

Louise Nicholls

5 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2002

The Temporary Labour Working Group

In early 2002, ETI organised two consultative seminars to discuss problems in and solutions to the provision of temporary labour in the UK food and agricultural industry.

Over 100 growers, packers, retailers, labour providers, trade unions, manufacturers and civil servants attended. Despite this diversity a remarkable consensus was reached. The unanimity of opinion was that abuses, evasions and fraudulent activities were getting more frequent and that this trend would continue without new controls on labour providers.

Participants called for the establishment of a licensing and registration scheme for labour providers that would give an assurance that each was a legal and responsible employer.

So by the end of 2002, the Temporary Labour Working Group (TLWG) was born; a body that represented the whole of the supply chain to:

Engage with government on the need for legislation

Develop a set of responsible recruitment and supply standards, and an audit process to enable labour providers to demonstrate compliance

Ensure that labour issues were managed in a fair and reasonable way for all in the supply chain

Members included representatives of trades unions, supermarkets, packhouses and farmers and the initiative was strongly supported by Defra and the government generally.

6 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2003

Representation required

The TLWG lobbied for legislation to control the supply of labour and also worked on drawing up a code of practice for the industry. The two developments ran in parallel and were closely linked.

Dionne Harrison was a TLWG member and was responsible for developing guidance for labour providers, establishing helplines for workers and labour providers, and training auditors.

Dionne believes that this was probably the first time that business came together to lobby government to ask for legislation;

‘There is a misunderstanding that business is against legislation, when actually business is supportive of good legislation and wants a fair and level playing field.’

However, one thing the TLWG lacked, was representation from labour providers themselves. There was only one labour provider on the TLWG, and existing labour provider representative bodies were not interested in engaging. Labour providers needed a louder voice to allow them to become part of the solution, as well as bring their experience to what was actually happening in the fields and factories. It was also important to give labour providers a positive face despite the press inevitably focussing on major exploitation issues and the negative connotations of the word; ‘gangmaster’; a term that has been universally hated by all labour providers from the beginning!

The TLWG approached Mark Boleat, an expert in trade associations and asked him to create and run a trade association for labour providers.

7 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2004

Birth of the Association of Labour Providers

Mark swiftly set up the Association of Labour Providers with an initial 18 members, an off the shelf constitution, a virtual office facility and a website. His practical and pragmatic approach to delivering exactly what was needed quickly and with the minimum of fuss became an ongoing hallmark of the ALP.

Gangmasters Licensing Bill published

The Labour MP Jim Sheridan introduced a private member’s Bill to license “gangmasters” in January 2004. The Government did not initially support the Bill on the grounds that existing enforcement agencies could deal with the problem. However, the TLWG was a strong coalition behind it.

In February 2004 the tragic deaths of at least 21 Chinese cockle pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay after being trafficked into the UK, substantially raised the profile of the issue and led to growing demands for “something to be done”.

The government decided to support the legislation, in effect taking over the drafting and responsibility for getting it through Parliament. The Bill duly received an unopposed second reading in the House of Commons on 27 February 2004.

By this time the ALP had been established and it quickly became involved in ensuring that the interests of labour providers were properly represented. Defra and other stakeholders recognised the Association as a proper representative body notwithstanding its small membership and recent establishment.

During the course of the year ALP became an effective and respected trade association and was one of the group of institutions consulted by Defra as the Bill went through the Parliamentary process.

“The ALP was created to provide a voice for labour providers within this process and it was very useful to have their experience – otherwise it would have become just another thing that was done to the supply chain.
Dionne Harrison, TLWG Member
8 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2005

GLA formally established

Marking the acceptance of the ALP as the representative body for labour providers, ALP was invited to take up two seats on the board of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) (now Gangmasters and Labour Abuse AuthorityGLAA), meaning labour providers had a strong voice right at the centre of regulation.

From the beginning, ALP and GLAA have worked closely together and have often taken the role of ‘critical friend’. Senior GLAA speakers usually feature at ALP roadshows, council meetings and other events, and even with the new ‘slimmed down’ non-representative board, ALP maintains an open and regular dialogue with GLAA including continued attendance at Liaison Group meetings – a process instigated by ALP.

“A little over a year ago, labour providers had just a single lone voice, in the form of Zad Padda, representing their interests on a number of important policy issues. Now, labour providers have an effective trade association to represent their interests. The Association owes its existence and success to a number of people, the contribution of each of whom has been essential to what has been achieved.

Firstly, Zad Padda who started the process a couple of years ago. Secondly, the eighteen labour providers who, at a meeting in Cambridge in January 2004, had the vision and wisdom to establish the trade association, and particularly to the representatives of those companies and to those who joined subsequently who have comprised the first Executive Committee of the Association. They have provided the leadership and the industry knowledge without which no trade association can succeed. Thirdly, Jennifer Frances has played a huge role, by providing sound academic research on issues that previously were clouded in mystery, and also in getting the Association off the ground, including by participating in Executive Committee meetings. Finally, Defra could not have been more supportive. Lindsay Harris began the work by getting labour providers together, and this has been carried on by Geoff Webdale and his colleagues. Defra has been supportive in a number of ways, including financially, but more importantly from the beginning has regarded the ALP as the representative body for labour providers. The working relationship between Defra and the ALP is excellent. Where Defra wants a response from the ALP at short notice it gets it, and equally when the ALP asks for something from Defra then the matter is considered promptly and efficiently.”

Address by Mark Boleat, Chairman at ALP Annual Meeting, 25 April 2005

The GLA created two new offences; it became illegal for unlicensed labour providers to supply labour into the regulated sector, and it became illegal for a business in the regulated sector to use an unlicensed labour provider. This made labour users legally responsible for ensuring that they used licensed providers meaning that they now had some responsibility for dealing with the problems in the food supply chain.

The Act also provided for the sharing of information about labour providers between the GLA and all other government agencies – in theory the GLA knew what the Home Office, or Defra or HMRC knew.

9 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2006

GLA user group established

In the early months and years of the GLA, it became apparent that ALP needed to get closer to the day-to-day operations of the organisation. GLA had little experience in labour provision and understanding of the issues in the sector would take time to develop.

ALP proposed the establishment of a regular user group, where labour providers could meet round a table with GLA and discuss issues of mutual interest. Now formalised as the ‘Liaison Group’ these meetings continue to this day and ALP continue to attend.

What has changed?

In the early days of this process, there were no structures in place to monitor and manage labour issues., so there are no baselines for the scale of exploitation, but the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) believes that;

The businesses who were blatantly abusing their staff have been driven out of the industry

Organisations have worked together collectively to have a very clear expectation of how the industry and labour providers are expected to act in a responsible and consistent manner to support their workforces

FPC members can now have confidence that they can source labour from government approved providers

10 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2007

David Camp takes the helm

David Camp took over as director of the ALP and with Jerry Camp became responsible for administrative support, expanding the range of services for members, revamping the website and advising members about the everincreasing volume of regulation that applied to them.

David and Jerry’s previous careers were perfect for the task! Encompassing HR and Operational management for food production and major retailers, before setting up allianceHR; a consultancy firm focused on fair employment and ethical trade supply chain solutions; David and Jerry brought their experience, expertise and work ethic to solving the problems of labour providers.

As Chief Executive of the ALP, David worked on policy and strategy, whilst Jerry worked directly with members offering services ranging from audit and training to representing members to the GLA.

Charge Rate Guidance

The majority of the labour provider invoice value is made up of wages to the worker and statutory costs, all of which are subject to regular review by the government.

Labour providers were finding it increasingly difficult to pass on the increases in costs to their clients, and to help them to demonstrate the issue ALP devised the Charge Rate guidance

Populated with statutory costs, and estimates of variable costs provided by external sources, the guidance shows labour users the real cost of labour provision and helps to identify the labour providers who may be cutting financial corners.

Louise Nichols remembers it as a ‘ground-breaking moment’;

‘We were able to tell labour users that if you’re paying under that charge rate that’s not possible – it inherently causes people to be underpaid.’

The calculation was quite rightly open to debate. ALP proposed that one comprehensive set of rates be prepared and endorsed by key stakeholders before being published as guidance to the industry. These rates were prepared by the ALP and were subsequently agreed by several other organisations including the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and Defra. They were endorsed at the GLA Board meeting on 17 April 2007 and continue to be updated annually, or whenever there is a change in statutory costs.

‘I have had most exposure to ALP through David Camp who is a very good pragmatic ambassador for them, there is a willingness to engage in the conversation and in discussions with government and various stakeholders.

Having their voice at the table is normally an enriching conversation and I find ALP are more willing to challenge.’

Dionne Harrison 2019

11 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2008

Complyer - agency labour best practice and audit tool

ALP developed the Complyer Agency Labour Audit Tool in association with Marks and Spencer suppliers. Mirroring the Gangmaster Licensing Standards it enabled labour providers and labour users to work in partnership towards best practice.

‘At Manor Fresh assuring that workers are treated fairly throughout our supply chain is of paramount importance to our business and to our brand. The Agency Labour Audit Tool supports us in achieving this aim by providing a comprehensive and consistent benchmark against which we monitor our agency labour supply.’

‘The structured questions, relevant guidance and reporting tools simplify and standardise our processes.’

Shayne Tyler, Operations Manager, Manor Fresh Ltd 2008

‘We have found the Agency Labour Audit Tool to be a straightforward and effective tool to use in partnership with our labour provider to maintain and improve the quality of agency labour supply to our business. It has now formed part of our due diligence process in assuring the ethical and fair treatment of agency workers working in the 2 Sisters Food Group.’

Terry O’Dea, Corporate Social Responsibility Director 2 Sisters Food Group 2008

Complyer is kept up to date with changing UK legislation and is used by labour providers, labour users and professional audit organisations to improve compliance and demonstrate due diligence, improve client satisfaction and drive up ethical and quality standards.

‘The vast majority of businesses want to do the right thing and ensure that agency workers receive their due rights and entitlements. We are delighted that M&S suppliers have found this tool to be of such benefit and we thank them for their involvement in its development.’

Camp, Director of the ALP, 2008

The first ALP handbook was published and distributed free of charge to stakeholders up and down the supply chain.

As well as the opportunity for members to promote their business, the handbook contains a myriad of useful information including GLAA licensing standards, the main issues affecting our industry and how the ALP is supporting members. It includes a directory of all members, and the latest version is available to download from the ALP website and distributed annually to thousands of businesses in the UK.

12 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2009

Roadshows and representation successes

The first ALP Roadshows were held under the heading; ‘Protecting your Labour Provider Business’.

ALP travelled the UK each spring inviting members to join together for a face-to-face update on issues affecting our industry. We always had a legislation update from our legal partners and one from the GLA, as well as expert speakers from Government to brief members directly on the issues of the day – from Brexit to AWR; immigration to tax evasion. Roadshows gave members the opportunity to make their views known and put their questions directly to the government and industry experts who spoke at these events.

HMRC levied large arrears payments on a number of labour providers following its interpretation that deductions from wages to cover transport to work, even if optional and signed for, reduce pay for NMW purposes. Through direct representation ALP managed to persuade HMRC to withdraw some of those demands.

ALP assisted the GLA in redrafting the licensing standards securing substantial improvements for the benefit of labour providers. Fulfilling one of our policy priorities in obtaining more clarity around inspections, the GLA produced an Information Sheet for inspectors to give to licence holders at inspection to explain the process and what happens next.

Following ALP representations, HMRC amended their guidance on due diligence checks that a labour user should undertake on a labour provider.



13 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline
Association of Labour Providers

ALP Timeline... 2010

Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (AWR)

The Agency Workers Regulations were the biggest single piece of legislation to impact labour providers. Requiring that agency workers are treated equally with directly engaged ‘comparators’ the Regulations are comprehensive, complicated and often unclear in terms of how to achieve its requirements.

AWR also had a major impact on labour users – both because of the requirement for equal treatment, and it’s financial impact on some businesses.

ALP took a full role in the consultation groups for the development of the Governments official AWR guidance and submitted a detailed response on the draft guidance.

What has changed?

Labour provision is recognised as an important and intrinsic part of global supply chains, with a valid place in the labour market

ALP has built capacity for labour providers to enable them to professionalise, and provides the information, training and support needed for that to continue

Relationships between labour providers, labour users and retailers are much more collaborative –less ‘them and us’

Labour users are now more responsible and have a better understanding of the impact of their decisions on labour exploitation in the supply chain

ALP has the ability to cut through the greyness and provide black and white information to support responsible labour providers and labour users.

Louise Nichols 2019

14 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2011


Significant government cuts to the GLA budget had impacted the GLA with zero press releases in the first five months of the year, a continued lack of progress on policy issues and reduced labour provider liaison group activity.

An ALP survey found that 71% of LPs were in favour of GLA licensing, but less than half considered that the GLA was doing a good job (49%) and only 42% thought that the GLA had created a more level playing field for competition.

Margaret Beels took over as Chair of the GLA and immediately re-instated the liaison group meetings, combining the Labour Provider and Labour User groups for greater efficiency and commenting that they were an essential part of the GLA’s activity.

Retailers started setting out expectations for labour providers in their supply chains, creating an additional level of compliance but members reported a lack of consistency between auditors who interpreted ethical standards differently.

But 2011 was dominated by the implementation of AWR in October. ALP supported members with briefs, templates, guidance and training, making sure that all resources fit the ALP standard of practical and pragmatic.

15 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2012

Engagement and taking stock

The GLA’s compliance activity continued to decrease with their focus directed towards enforcement activity on serious and organised crime and the worst cases of worker exploitation.

In response to members issues with the performance of the GLA, ALP published a policy paper in January ‘Future Focus of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority’ proposing 20 areas that the GLA should address to better target noncompliant operators and reduce burdens on the compliant. The paper was well received, and ALP worked with the GLA to implement many of its suggestions.

The GLA’s reduction in compliance activity meant that licence holders could expect a compliance inspection once every 15 years on average. This did not meet the expectations or requirements of the retailers and so a significant proportion of the Associations work was spent engaging with supermarkets to maintain a positive attitude to agency working within their supply chains and to ensure that systems for good labour standards were relevant, proportionate and reasonable.

October saw the introduction of auto-enrolment pensions adding another statutory charge to the cost of labour. So what

GLA regulation is more informed and appropriate than it would have been

A number of modest improvements in regulation – particularly in respect of GLA licensing but also the Agency Workers Directive and the Worker Registration Scheme

A well informed and regulated industry

The status of labour providers has been enhanced – although not helped by the term gangmaster

The retention of the GLA as a regulator

It has won the argument on the Worker Registration Scheme and transport and accommodation deductions in respect of the National Minimum Wage but this has not been translated into action.

16 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline
Extract from ALP Chairman’s Speech 9 May 2012
has the ALP achieved over the last eight years?

ALP Timeline... 2013

Changes at the top and Stronger Together

Paul Broadbent became the Chief Executive of the GLA on 7 January 2013 and brought a new energy and enthusiasm to the organisation. Under Paul’s leadership, the GLA became more consultative and engaging –listening to the needs of labour providers and responding promptly and appropriately. Since 2008, ALP has conducted a biennial survey of labour providers attitudes towards the GLA, and Paul’s positive impact can clearly be seen in the table below.

Paul tragically died at the end of 2017 after more than 30 years of public service.

Initially agreeing back in 2004, to set up and run the ALP for a period of 3 months, Mark Boleat finally stepped down as the Chair of the ALP.

After a competitive recruitment process, Kevin Roberts was appointed his successor. Kevin came from a distinguished career within the food and agricultural sectors, most recently as Director General of the National Farmers Union, and immediately embarked on a process of formalising the ALP’s governance and engaging with members to establish exactly what they wanted from their Association.

Almost all members valued the policy briefs and the opportunity to influence GLA and government but Member Briefs, newsletter and roadshows were by far the most valuable benefits of membership. Respondents felt the ALP mission and policy priorities were correct but recognised the risk of all expertise concentrated in too few hands. However, members did not want ALP to merge with a larger organisation and risk losing focus.

17 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline
2008 2011 2013 2015 2017 2019 2021 2023 In favour of licencing 79% 71% 81% 93% 96% 95% 95% 95% Think GLAA is doing a good job 69% 49% 55% 73% 86% 84% 79% 82% Improved conditions for workers 60% 42% 63% 79% 88% 89% 82% 89% Reduced fraud/illegal acts 60% 69% 65% 79% 80% 82% 77% 78% Created a more level playing field 42% 50% 67% 69% 66% 60% 67% Service
is professional 77% 94% 97% 87% 80%
from the GLAA

Stronger Together

Stronger Together

The ALP has always remained focused on improving standards in labour provision, and in 2013 became one of the development partners for a programme known today as ‘Stronger Together’.

Stronger Together is an impact driven, not for profit organisation providing a wide range of high quality, opensource free resources, cost-effective interactive training opportunities, digital tools, and audit and certification services for businesses.

The roots of Stronger Together can be traced back to a TV exposé by Trevor McDonald in 2004 which showed widespread use of forged identity documents by migrant workers supplied by a recruitment business to a UK fruit processing plant and other factories. Stronger Together’s founder, David Camp, was asked to put in place systems to prevent this happening again and uncovered what seemed to be a network of exploiters controlling their fellow countrymen.

In 2010, after hearing more cases, David developed a briefing document for ALP members called “Uncovering Hidden Migrant Worker Mistreatment’. Marks and Spencer, being alerted by this happening in their supply chains, wanted to give their suppliers practical tools to prevent and deal with suspected cases of exploitation so David adapted the briefing document into a toolkit to support businesses in uncovering the hidden maltreatment of migrants in their UK operations.

In 2013, the UK Home Office trafficking statistics showed that a third of forced labour cases in the UK took place in agriculture and food manufacturing. It was clear something needed to happen. David approached all the UK supermarkets to propose a programme to help their UK suppliers take proactive steps to prevent and respond to this risk of forced labour, human trafficking and hidden exploitation. Stronger Together was born.

The UK Gangmasters Licensing Authority and Migrant Help joined as partners, as did many business associations, NGOs and victim support agencies like the Salvation Army.

Today Stronger Together works in three continents and across multiple sectors, with many organisations, and with a wider vision of a world where all workers are recruited responsibly and have fair work, free from exploitation.

‘Each one of the 40 million people trapped in modern slavery today is a person, like you and I, and we must individually and collectively take responsibility to bring an end to this great human rights abuse. I truly believe that responsible businesses hold the key to effecting this global change. Stronger Together will work with you on this journey.’

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ALP Timeline... 2014


ALP were now collaborating regularly with GLA on issues such as the scope of licensing, licensing standards, the Supplier/Retailer protocol and changes to the public register.

ALP joined the Agriculture Industry Advisory Committee, a HSE project group to produce guidance addressing Health and Safety issues in farming and fresh produce.

We explored more formalised collaborative arrangements with organisations such as the British Growers Association, the Food and Drink Federation and developed new relationships with retailers further enhancing the reputation of ALP higher up the supply chain.

External organisations were beginning to develop solutions for the auditing of labour providers, including SEDEX where ALP had contributed written guidance.

The ALP Members’ Council saw a labour provider accreditation scheme as a potentially useful strategy that should be explored further and our Chair updated the ALP’s legal structure to a company limited by guarantee.

FPC has an excellent relationship with ALP and enjoys an open dialogue that help to proactively manage issues for the benefit of the industry, employees and workers.

Like FPC, ALP is a practical ‘on the ground’ trade association that understands members concerns and issues and works hard to provide pragmatic solutions.

19 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2015

The Modern Slavery Act

The Modern Slavery Act became law with businesses above £36m annual turnover subject to a transparency in supply chains (TiSC) reporting requirement to publicly state each year on their website what action they have taken to ensure their supply chains are slavery free.

The ALP together with Stronger Together, took a lead role in supporting UK labour providers and employers to combat hidden slavery within their businesses, and sat on the advisory panel for the development of the Home Office TiSC statutory guidance.

Indeed, Stronger Together provided a blueprint for how to comply with the Modern Slavery Act and so supermarkets encouraged their UK supply base to attend the Stronger Together training and register as a Business Partner, thus helping to meet their own TiSC responsibilities.

The GLA introduced a new smaller independent non-executive board, replacing the representative board that ALP had been part of from its inception, and 2015 saw the first GLA conference.

Members were increasingly reporting concerns about the tightening of labour supply as a consequence of the rapidly changing UK employment market.

20 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2016

Webinars and regional meetings

ALP conducted its first webinar on The Living Wage, which was introduced in April 2016 with an ambition to reach 60% of median UK earnings by 2020.

Webinars have since become a staple ALP service provision as a quick and cost-effective way of disseminating information without busy labour providers having to travel to meet us.

The GLA became the GLAA – the Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority - with an extended remit to prevent, detect and investigate worker exploitation across all labour sectors. It was given police style powers in England and Wales to help it tackle all forms of exploitation.

The operation of travel and subsistence schemes was finally outlawed in April of 2016 removing a controversial issue which was either a way for unscrupulous labour providers to make extra money at the expense of their workers, or a tax efficient way of funnelling more pay to workers – dependent upon whether you operated such a scheme or not!

UK employment was at its highest ever level of 74.5% with a record 31.8 million people in work. Feedback from members and food businesses was that sourcing labour was continuing to get more challenging.

And of course, the result of the Brexit referendum signalled the start of a very long process of disengagement from the EU.

On a topic that is ever changing and must feel like the delivery of the content is like juggling with sand, it was delivered well and very informative with the steps or proposed steps mapped clearly. Thanks again!

21 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2017

Labour supply issues and DLME

Sir David Metcalfe became the first Director of Labour Market Enforcement (DLME) reporting to the Secretaries of State for the Home Office and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The DLME is responsible for setting the strategic priorities for the GLAA, Employment Agency Standards (EAS), and the NMW enforcement team at HMRC with an intelligence hub and associated data sharing gateways to identify trends and patterns in areas of the economy where workers are at risk of exploitation.

Every business became liable to pay 0.5% of its payroll value as an Apprenticeship Levy. A £15,000 allowance means that the levy effectively applies to businesses with an annual payroll in excess of £3 million.

Labour shortages continued to intensify with further falls in EU labour supply. The ALP commenced regular surveys of members specifically focussing on labour supply issues which highlighted deepening concerns for the immediate future and reinforced the findings of the April 2017 EFRA Committee Report ‘Feeding the nations: labour constraints’ that ‘evidence submitted to this enquiry suggests the current problem is in danger of becoming a crisis if urgent measures are not taken to fill the gaps in labour supply.’

ALP output now required more senior support to keep the momentum going and so Gillian Haythornthwaite was appointed ALP Head of Policy. With a background in HR and many years’ experience as a labour user, Gillian formalised our Sourcing and Retaining Workers workstream with a range of resources aimed at helping members to find and keep workers, including a monthly update on labour supply and immigration.

Gillian leads on policy areas such as immigration and access to labour and represents ALP on many government groups holding particularly strong relationships with the Home Office and Defra.

Matthew Taylor, the Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts, led an independent review considering the implications of new forms of work on worker rights and responsibilities as well as on employer freedoms and obligations. The report; Good Work: the Taylor review of modern working practices included 53 recommendations to government.

ALP was awarded the 2017 Trade Association Forum Corporate Social Responsibility Award for its work in founding and leading Stronger Together.

The ALP is very pleased to receive this award in recognition of our work supporting business to tackle the risk of modern slavery through the Stronger Together initiative. I would like to personally thank everyone who has been involved in the programme and has implemented the good practice to date. But our work has only just begun. We must all continue to advocate responsible business practices until we achieve our vision of slavery free supply chains.”

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ALP Timeline... 2018

Responsible Recruitment

Hannah Newcomb was appointed as Head of Responsible Recruitment taking responsibility for development and becoming the operational lead on all responsible recruitment issues. With a background in international development and ethical trade for some of the UK’s biggest retailers, Hannah was perfectly placed to lead the expansion of these ground breaking programmes.

Compliance inspections in 2018 were at the lowest level in the history of the GLAA/GLA with just 52 across the whole year underlining the industrys’ need for an independent audit process.

ALP developed and launched the Responsible Recruitment Toolkit (RRT) – an online capacity building tool providing step by step, practical, interactive guidance and online training across the breadth of responsible recruitment good practice.

Originally subscription based, a new sponsorship model for the Responsible Recruitment Toolkit was announced in 2020 enabling free access to the online tool for Sponsors supply chain and ALP members.

RRT worked with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) developing the guidance and resources for the IRIS (International Recruitment Integrity Standard) capacity building programme for international recruiters and works with business internationally including specific programmes in the USA and Malaysia.

ALP introduced the Responsible Recruitment Forums – free online events for members HR and Compliance managers to come together, share experience, resolve challenges and collaborate on responsible recruitment.

Holiday pay is the licensing standard most often breached on GLAA inspections and the rules surrounding payment of holiday pay to agency workers are complex and in some cases contradictory. In our comprehensive member’s brief; ‘Calculating Paid Holiday Entitlement for Agency Workers’ and its accompanying webinar masterclass, ALP gave step by step instruction on how to comply, including calculations, examples and checklists.

Over the years, ALP has published over 200 Member Briefs covering every element of labour provision and along with the monthly newsletter, they are cited as being the most valuable elements of ALP membership.

The Government published its response to the Taylor Review; The Good Work Plan which detailed how the government would implement the recommendations arising from the Taylor Review.

We fully support the ALP and think it’s fantastic. It keeps us up to date with any industry news, legislative changes and is the best comfort blanket a business like ours can have!


23 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2019

Open to Opportunity and Brexit

ALP launched a new programme – Open to Opportunity (O2O) – to support labour providers and employers in providing employment opportunities to harder to reach groups of UK workers. O2O provides a range of practical tools, guidance and pilot projects to help attract, engage and retain people from all walks of life – all backgrounds, experiences, genders, ages, races, religions and abilities.


Programmes included working with the DWP and Jobcentre Plus focusing on the different communities that can be accessed via the Jobcentre; Project Speranta (Hope) a co-operative project between Camden Council, Change Grow Live (CGL) and ALP to provide work opportunities to transient migrant workers seeking work in the UK; significant work with Her Majesty’s’ Prison Service and the Jobcentre to provide guidance and support on working with prisoners and people with convictions and the Spare Worker Availability Portal which sought to provide a technological solution to accessing labour.

A Seasonal Workers Scheme pilot commenced in the Spring with two ALP members selected by Defra and the Home Office to bring 2,500 workers from outside the EU to undertake seasonal work for up to six months in edible horticulture. In 2022, the route enabled four Operators to bring in 40,000 workers across edible and ornamental horticulture and poultry workers.

ALP joined the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to join with other business groups and trade associations in sending a consistent message to Government on future immigration policy.

Under the theme ‘Keeping Britain at #Full Strength – we need a global workforce’, ALP joined with other trade bodies ranging from agriculture, health, construction and tech to form a stronger business voice on the importance of immigration to the economy.

Joanne Young joined the ALP as Head of Development taking responsibility for the newsletter, updating and creating Member Briefs and investigating and managing new service offerings. Joanne has over 30 years’ experience’ as a labour provider and was well known to the ALP having sat on the ALP Members Council for many years and as an ALP representative to the GLA Board.

The EU Settlement scheme opened on 30 March giving EU citizens already living and working in the UK the opportunity to remain indefinitely after Brexit.

There were also a range of measures announced to be used in the event of a no-deal Brexit and in September, ALP was successful in winning a grant from the Government to produce a range of resources and events to help businesses ‘Get Ready for Brexit.’ We created presentations, webinars and written guidance and worked with both the Home Office and Defra to ensure our members were as up to date as possible – no mean feat with the outcome of Brexit seeming to change every day!

Members indicate that ALP membership is a key criterion for winning new business with customers increasingly making it a prerequisite of doing business.

The headlines from the ALP survey at the end of 2019 were:

Labour supply to the UK food supply chain was significantly worse compared to the previous year

Quality of workers continued to be a serious concern

Most labour providers were having to invest more money to source labour

24 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2020

Coronavirus – social distancing, unprecedented times, and the new normal

Coronavirus hit the UK in early March radically changing day to day life, the recruitment landscape and working practices.

Labour providers play a vital role in our economy by supplying the workforce for the food and consumer goods supply chains, and never was that more evident than during the pandemic.

The workers our members supplied stopped being ‘unskilled’ and became ‘essential’. Campaigns encouraging resident workers displaced by coronavirus, to replace those workers unable to get to the UK to take up their normal jobs, were widespread – including ‘Pick For Britain’, a government website built and managed with ALP input and promoted by HRH The Prince of Wales.

ALP quickly responded to member’s needs and focused on providing a wide range of practical support and guidance including regular group calls amongst members - sometimes on a daily basis.

The ALP also speedily adapted its website to provide an opportunity through its ‘Extra Workers Needed Portal’ where labour provider Members could easily connect with businesses that needed extra workers, and delivered retailer funded webinars to thousands of people, supporting supply chain businesses to build capacity to cope with the changes Coronavirus brought.

Feedback on our coronavirus support services was excellent with many members taking the time to write to the ALP expressing their thanks:

“Thank you for all the support you are providing during these turbulent times. The group phone calls and webinars are brilliant!”

“I wanted to acknowledge that the relentless, supportive communication and quality thereof, coming from the ALP, is and remains invaluable!”

“Please extend my thanks to your team for their extraordinary delivery under these circumstances.”

The Government published their Immigration Policy Statement setting out their plans for the new points based immigration system to replace the free movement of EU citizens from January 2021.

This was a body blow for labour providers and their clients who rely on migrant workers to perform key roles in sectors such as agriculture, food production, care, construction and hospitality for which there are not enough local workers or which UK nationals and residents choose not to perform.

April saw a wide range of new legislation affecting our members including the repeal of Swedish Derogation and the introduction of the Key Information Document.

After an ALP members survey highlighted that poor procurement practice was widespread amongst those organisations buying labour provider services, ALP created Fair’s Fair - an awareness and education programme to support the commercially sustainable procurement of agency labour so that workers never pay the price of poor purchasing practice.

Working with the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS), Fair’s Fair explains and builds understanding among procurement teams about how unscrupulous labour providers create additional income to bolster their earnings; supplies tools and training to help labour providers achieve sustainable commercial agreements that support them to source and retain workers fairly and engages with stakeholders to agree good practice guidelines.

25 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2021

Embracing the digital age

Coronavirus forced many businesses to change the way they operate, and ALP was no different. Social distancing meant Roadshows, face-to-face training and Regional meetings were out, but online forums, and training were in. We’d already been delivering regular online webinars, but these became the norm for disseminating information.

These digital communications meant that ALP was able to engage with more members, more often, providing even better value with free monthly forums covering all relevant labour provider updates and weekly webinars providing free training and briefing on issues of interest to labour providers.

We introduced the online ALP Academy – a complete range of modular compliance and operational training relevant to the specific needs of our members. Available as either open or in-house courses, the online version of the ALP Academy breaks down our key workshops into 2- and 3-hour interactive online sessions – perfect for fitting into the day of a busy labour provider.

2021 was also the year when labour shortages really started to bite. The twin impacts of Brexit and Coronavirus had left the UK perilously short of workers as highlighted by the ALP Food Supply Chain Labour Survey Results in May 2021:

70% of labour users experienced shortages of lower skilled workers

78% of labour providers did not expect to meet client demands for the 2021 summer peak

ALP worked extensively with the Home Office and Defra to understand emerging immigration legislation and distil this into practical, straightforward and up to date Immigration and Right to Work guidance and resources. ALP partnered with the Home Office to produce the ‘Workforce recruitment and labour supply’ guide which covers the new immigration rules, right to work checks, and how employers can develop strategies to source, recruit and retain workers within the new system.

We created good practice guides to labour planning, and to sourcing and retaining workers, helping members to find new workers as well as optimising the use of the workers they already have.

Our open source Working in the UK Food Industry video used real life food workers to explain the benefits of working in the food industry to promote work opportunities in UK Food and Agriculture. Recruiters can download the video and use in recruitment campaigns and on websites.

26 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2021

To combat the increased risk of worker exploitation, ALP created a ‘Working in the UK’ animated video to explain worker rights and produced it in a number of different languages. Perfect to use in worker inductions to ensure that all workers have consistent information about their rights in a language that they can understand.

ALP also funded the UK version of Just Good Work - a free mobile app which supports job seekers and workers with clear information on their rights and responsibilities throughout the recruitment process, into employment and throughout their working life.

In 2019, Operation Fort, Britain’s largest anti-slavery prosecution to date with an estimated 400 victims, uncovered how organised crime gangs infiltrated UK labour providers to provide work for their victims.

In her 2020 review of the case, the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton, highlighted the poor practice that has taken place and made recommendations on the actions that business should take to ensure they are addressing the risks of slavery and trafficking in their business and supply chains.

During 2021, ALP responded with a range of practical actions:

Refined our free and open-source guidance ‘Labour Provider – Due Diligence to ensure Good Practice’ to provide a step-by-step process to labour provider due diligence. This supports businesses to agree and monitor standards with their labour provider(s) that meet good practice and statutory requirements under all tax, health & safety and employment laws including the Conduct Regulations, Gangmasters Licensing Act, Modern Slavery Act and Agency Workers Regulations.

Created the Compliance Operations Rating Evaluation (CORE Score) checklist - a free, accessible, sector neutral, interactive checklist which brings all legal compliance requirements together in a single document. It provides a self-assessed percentage score to enable gap analysis and action planning, signposts to key guidance and resources and supports collaborative working with clients.

Collaborated with the GLAA on a 2 hour online interactive workshop – Due Diligence to ensure Labour Provider Good Practice – available free of charge to ALP members, GLAA licence holders and applicants, and all labour users in the food supply chain.

2021 was also the year that the Responsible Recruitment Toolkit transferred into Stronger Together – it’s global and cross-sector focus fitting much more appropriately with the Stronger Together purpose.

ALP still works very closely with Stronger Together, and ALP members continue to receive valuable free benefits from Stronger Together, including a free full subscription to the RRT online tool.


27 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2022

Engagement and labour shortages

In February, Russia invaded Ukraine and the UK swiftly stepped up to the plate with a range of fast visa routes to support those fleeing war. ALP created a dedicated space on our website to ensure that both members and Ukrainians could access simple, practical and relevant guidance to support the employment of Ukrainian nationals in the UK.

ALP recognised that although we have an unparalleled library of compliance and best practice resources, our challenge was to ensure that members were aware of them and were able to access what they needed quickly and efficiently.

We started with re-designing our website, both to bring it up to date, but also to improve access to resources, adding topical pages reflecting current issues, such as Access to Labour, Immigration and Right to Work, and Charge Rate Guidance.

New step-by-step guides gave one-page overviews of processes, and signposted members to more comprehensive guidance on each step required to operate a compliant labour provider business.

Our labour user membership had also grown significantly, and so we introduced a Labour User Round Table, where labour user members can hear about relevant updates, share experience and best practice and connect with similar organisations.

Labour shortages caused restrictions in UK food output, reduced exports, food waste, food inflation and risks to animal welfare and food security and the ALP called for action at all levels to address this:

Government must urgently adopt a coherent and comprehensive national strategy to enable future access to labour and skills

Government departments and the food industry must work effectively and collaboratively to address immediate labour and skills shortages and remedy underlying causes

Each individual food business must take responsibility to improve its working environment, terms of engagement and employer branding to effectively attract and retain workers

The shortage of workers led to an increase in the number of businesses using the Skilled Worker route to source and recruit workers from overseas. Whilst labour providers cannot become sponsors and employ and supply workers under this visa route directly, they can provide recruitment and other related services to employer sponsors. ALP provided a range of support including webinars and written guidance and convened a working group of interested organisations to provide a collaborative space for current and potential food industry sponsors and recruiters to create and share good practice, experience, issues and learning.

28 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2023

A change at the top and the legislative burden increases

After running the ALP for over fifteen years, ALP Chief Executive, David Camp, took the decision to step back and let someone else have the opportunity to take our mission forward.

Joanne Young was appointed as ALP Chief Executive commencing on 1st January 2023. On the same date, David Camp moved into the ALP Chair role, taking over from Kevin Roberts who stepped down.

Joanne has a close association with the ALP, having been on the Members’ Council since 2005, and working as Head of Development since 2019. Prior to that Joanne worked in a major labour provider business over many years experiencing first-hand the requirements and challenges of running a successful recruitment business.

I have always been a great supporter of the ALP and have first-hand experience of the incredible benefits it brings to members. I am delighted, honoured and excited to be taking over from David and look forward to continuing to work with members, staff and other ALP Stakeholders to support labour provider compliance, and encourage a leading practice approach to the recruitment and supply of workers in our sectors.

Joanne Young 2023

Gillian Haythornthwaite moved into the Head of Development role and Lorna Bramwell joined ALP in our newly created Head of Engagement role. An ex-labour provider, Lorna answers most of our member technical queries and a really important part of her role is to ensure that members understand and are able to access all the services ALP provides and also that ALP understands what our members want from us.

ALP conducted a survey of all members, asking what more ALP could do to support them. The answers were very clear – members wanted evolution not revolution – they were very happy with ALP services but there are always improvements that can be made. In direct response to member feedback, we simplified and improved access to our briefs and guidance, newsletter and news and events page making them all more current and more accessible.

We also reintroduced our face-to-face Roadshows, with expert speakers on current issues and the opportunity to network with regulators, clients and suppliers.




Early in 2023, ALP joined other industry trade bodies, retailers, growers, recruiters and non-profits to establish the Seasonal Worker Scheme (SWS) Taskforce. The Taskforce’s mission is to ‘work collaboratively to develop and implement tangible actions to help safeguard and ensure access to workers’ rights in the UK Seasonal Worker Scheme (SWS) and wider UK horticulture.’

Although our May survey showed that labour availability was improving, it was at the cost of volumes as labour users dialled back their recruitment and labour providers reported increased recruitment costs and reduced orders. Throughout the year, announcements of legal and legislative changes came thick and fast: changes to the EU Settlement Scheme; measures to reduce net migration; long awaited changes to holiday pay; a raft of new rights for employees; the largest ever increase to National Minimum Wage; the right for workers to request more predictable terms and the tripling of the civil penalty for employing employees without the right to work in the UK were just some of the changes that ALP dissected, converted into practical guidance and briefed to members.

29 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline... 2024

20 years of ALP

At the time of writing, ALP are just a third of the way into 2024. Already we have introduced free and unlimited e-learning for ALP members, with an initial four courses. Each course is designed to enhance skills through practical, interactive guidance, quizzes, and exercises, and certificates are issued for completion.

Over time, we hope to build our e-learning library into a comprehensive resource to support both induction and ongoing training for all of our member’s staff.

An overwhelming 81% of our members voiced their support for ALP to offer an optional accreditation scheme for labour provider compliance, and so in April 2024, we formally launched our ALP Good Practice Principles.

Our goals are to:

n Empower labour providers to achieve and showcase best practice

n Offer a platform for labour providers to affirm their dedication to fairness, respect, and ethical conduct

n Provide an accessible audit solution, focusing on the matters that are paramount to both workers and clients

The first GLAA/ALP round table was held online, with future regular sessions to be face to face and held at member premises.

Plans for 2024 include:

n A review and update of our Fair’s Fair programme

n A further 8 e-learning modules to be available by the end of the year

n Further improvements to our website so that members can better control their staff access to ALP resources

n A full review of the Complyer tool, including:

• Making it cloud based so it is accessible on a range of devices

• Including a dashboard to enable effective management of multiple audits

• Creating a ‘freemium’ version for ALP members to manage internal assessment of the ALP Good Practice Principles

We will also see a general election this year. Should the Labour Party form the next government, we can expect a deluge of changes to employment rights. At the party conference in 2023, Angela Rayner, the deputy labour party leader said that Labour will implement its plans to bolster workers’ rights within 100 days of taking office:

“We’ll ban zero-hour contracts, and fire-and-rehire, and give workers basic rights from day one.

“We’ll go further and faster in closing the gender pay gap, make work more family-friendly, and tackle sexual harassment.

“And we won’t stop there. We’ll ensure that unions can stand up for their members. We will boost collective bargaining, to improve workers’ pay, terms and conditions.”

Whatever 2024 brings, ALP will continue to support members to understand, implement and manage any changes that are needed to remain compliant, competitive and cost-effective!

30 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline

ALP Timeline...

The future

During our first 20 years, the ALP has become accepted as a centre of authority and expertise and the range and quality of service to our members has grown immensely. The ALP has driven responsible recruitment, compliant and ethical practice and remained a source and champion of good labour standards and worker protection.

The ALP is fortunate to have a strong operational and sales team providing first line support to our members and seeking out new opportunities to promote membership and support businesses. From 18 members in 2004, our membership has continually grown year on year reaching 535 at the end of 2023.

Changing labour availability, increasing legislation and supply chain pressure on compliance all mean that labour providers must continue to professionalise to survive. They must become true business partners, able to advise and support their customers through an increasingly competitive landscape for labour, where retention becomes as important as recruitment and where – finally – service and compliance become more important than price.

The ALP will continue to punch above our weight; we will continue to produce tools, guidance and content that inspires, informs and educates and we will continue to work with legislators, regulators and above all members to ensure that UK labour provision is recognised as a model of global good practice.

31 ALP - The first 20 years | ALP Timeline
Becky Critchley Operations Administrator David Camp ALP Chair Alison Prince Operations Administrator Joanne Young Chief Executive Officer Heather Wild Operations Manager Lorna Bramwell Head of Member Engagement Gillian Haythornthwaite Head of Development Healey Newson Recruitment and Engagement Executive Michelle Elmer Data Administrator

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