Helping to negotiate the employment minefield
A new association has been formed to help educate employers and protect the interests of equestrian staff
A NEW organisation for equestrian employers has been launched after a study revealed that more than half of grooms are paid below the minimum wage.
The Equestrian Employers Association (EEA) has been set up by the British Grooms Association (BGA) to offer advice and support to all those who employ staff in the horse world.
The EEA offers a range of support for employers, including information about pensions and payrolls, legal advice and a contract creator.
“We work to educate employers about their obligations and also inform employees of their legal rights,” said Lucy Katan, executive director of the BGA and EEA.
“Recent high-profile prosecutions for non-compliance [among employers] have increased the awareness of the issue across the industry, but there is a long way to ensure employers understand their legal obligations.
“The EEA has been launched to provide good employment advice, support and HR tools for equestrian employers.
“This can only be a good thing for equestrian businesses, staff recruitment and retention and most importantly grooms.”
THE launch of the EEA comes at a crucial time.
The BGA recently ran a survey, which revealed that 57% of respondents who were employed were not paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or the National Living Wage.
This is an illegal and “awful” statistic for the industry, according to Ms Katan.
It also emerged that 89% of employees were aware of the NMW, despite the majority not receiving this level of income, and many were not receiving sick pay, statutory holiday entitlement or statutory maternity pay.
“Due to the nature of the industry, many employees work hours that far exceed any contracted hours,” said Ms Katan. “Where long hours are worked, many received neither remuneration nor time off in lieu. Thus more often than not, employers are flouting the NMW and NLW regulations.
“There seems to be an industry-wide lack of understanding that even if the employer is a private individual undertaking a hobby, they are still obliged to comply with employment rights,” Ms Katan added. “Many employees are worried to raise concerns for fear
of losing their job and possibly their home, if that is part of their employment.”
British event rider Francis Whittington supports the introduction of the EEA.
“There is a lot of regulation surrounding how we manage our businesses — it’s a minefield out there,” he said. “Often we don’t know what these rules and regulations are, but we should.
It is our responsibility, and this association provides easy access to that information.”
IRISH eventer Sam Dempsey said the launch of the EEA was a “brilliant” step.
“When I started employing people, I wanted to do things right, but I didn’t quite know what the right way was,” he told H&H.
“I met Lucy [Katan] through a good business practices course. It was terrifying learning where you could be going wrong, but I found out doing things right was much easier than it first seemed.
“When I find a good groom, it’s important they are looked after.”
The EEA is available to all those that employ staff in the equestrian industry.
Annual membership to the association costs £37.50.
Eventer Francis Whittington said riders have a responsibility to understand employment rules