Download the report

The inquiry report is a summary of our findings and the recommendations we believe will bring about change in the recruitment and employment of people in the meat and poultry processing sector.

Inquiry into recruitment and employment in the meat and poultry processing sector: Report of the findings and recommendations

Based on the findings of the inquiry, the Commission has made recommendations to the key bodies - supermarkets, agencies, processing firms, government, regulators and unions – which we believe will encourage a systemic change in behaviour. These recommendations include:

  • Processing firms and agencies to use fair and transparent recruitment practices and provide workers with a safe working environment free from discrimination and harassment, where they are able to raise issues of concern without fear of the consequences.
  • Supermarkets to improve their support to and auditing of suppliers
  • Government to provide sufficient resources for the GLA to deliver on its task of safeguarding the welfare and interests of workers and broaden its remit to include other sectors where low-paid agency workers are at risk of exploitation.

In addition to the report, we have created a set of in-depth findings about each of the main problem issues for agency workers in this sector and our recommendations to address them.

What we found about the treatment of agency workers in this sector

Significant numbers of workers reported physical and verbal abuse and a lack of proper health and safety protection to the Inquiry, with the treatment of pregnant workers a particular concern. We found that many workers had little knowledge of their rights and feared raising concerns would lead to dismissal. While migrant workers were most affected, British agency workers also faced similar mistreatment.

The inquiry uncovered frequent breaches of the law and licensing standards in meat processing factories - some of which supply the UK's biggest supermarkets - and the agencies that supply workers to them. It also highlighted conditions which flout minimum ethical trading standards and basic human rights.

However, the inquiry did find examples of good practice with firms treating permanent and agency workers of all nationalities with respect.

These firms benefitted as a result, by being able to attract and retain well motivated, loyal and increasingly skilled workers. They expressed frustration about the perceived ability of competitors to undercut them by acting unethically and unlawfully, and welcomed increased enforcement by regulators to create a level playing field.

Last updated: 19 Feb 2019