A husband and wife from Lincoln exploited and abused agricultural workers, including failing to make holiday payments, and have been banned from acting as company directors for 21 years.
Lincolnshire Recruitment Services Ltd was incorporated in June 2012 and provides workers for the agricultural industry, but Simon Melville, 42, and his wife Julie, 41, have been disqualified for 11 and 10 years respectively.
The recruitment firm began to struggle and entered into creditors’ voluntary liquidation in August 2018. This brought the company to the attention of the Insolvency Service, who established that the duo had breached regulations intended to protect workers from exploitation.
Investigators found that six months before its collapse, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority inspected the firm in February 2018 before revoking its GLAA licence.
GLAA Inspectors found that between July 2017 and September 2018, the couple failed to make holiday payments to 186 employees.
They charged employees for safety equipment which should have been supplied for free. They also didn’t provide employees with copies of their contracts.
In addition, they didn’t provide clients with formal terms of business, they disclosed employees’ personal details to third parties without consent, and allowed employees to transport staff to various sites without proper driving licences or insurance.
The inspection also found that Julie Melville had acted as the Principal Authority under the terms of the firm’s GLAA licence. However, GLAA had not formally authorised her to do so as she had not sent in her application.
She also concealed her position as Principal Authority from the GLAA during the regulator’s visit and only applied after the unannounced inspection.
Insolvency Service investigators found that Simon Melville had been illegitimately running Lincolnshire Recruitment Services in breach of a previous disqualification. He had been disqualified for nine years in December 2014 following the collapse of Melville Agricultural Contractors.
After the company finished trading he withdrew £45,000 worth of cash which should have been used to pay that firm’s tax liabilities.
Julie was aware of the ban but breached her own responsibilities as sole director by allowing her husband to run the recruitment firm behind the scenes.
Mr and Mrs Melville are now banned from acting as directors or directly or indirectly becoming involved without the permission of the court. This applies to the promotion, formation or management of a company.
The Secretary of State accepted a disqualification undertaking from Simon Melville on October 9, 2020 after he did not dispute that he acted in breach of his prior ban. The latest ban is effective from October 30, 2020.
Julie’s disqualification began on October 9 after she did not dispute that she allowed a third party to act as a director and, like her husband, caused the recruitment firm to abuse the GLAA’s licensing regulations.