Responsible Car Wash Scheme launched to tackle modern slavery

The Scheme aims to protect employees in the hand car wash industry, as well as consumers and the environment

A Responsible Car Wash Scheme has been launched by the Government to tackle modern slavery and non-compliance with regulations, while also protecting consumers.

Businesses that sign up to the service – which will provide guidance to help them operate within the confines of the law – will be able to display a Reasonable Car Wash Operator logo, allowing them to be recognised by consumers as looking after their workers, trading legally, adhering to environmental regulations and taking care of their customers’ vehicles.

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The Scheme – which will be piloted across the Midlands in November – is the product of collaboration between a wide range of Government bodies, including the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), the Downstream Fuel Association and the Health and Safety Executive. Anti-slavery charity Unseen has also been involved with the project.

The Car Wash Advisory Services estimates there are between 10,000 and 20,000 hand car washes in the UK, with issues such as modern day slavery, health and safety breaches, chemical damage to the environment and tax dodging occurring at roughly 8,000 of them.

One of the key cases that brought these concerns to the Government’s attention was the death of a Romanian worker in 2017, who was electrocuted while taking a shower at lodgings adjacent to the east London car wash he was employed at.

The GLAA’s Darryl Dixon commented: “We have seen numerous problems across this industry – from modern day slavery, debt bondage and failure to pay proper wages, to workers not being provided with any appropriate protective equipment.

“Whilst enforcement is crucial, education is also essential to both operators – so they can ensure they operate legally – and consumers – so they can make the simple decision of using a legal operator or not. This Scheme is a big step forward in addressing these issues.”

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