A new organisation has been launched to support equestrian employers after it emerged that more than half of grooms were being paid less than the minimum wage.
The Equestrian Employers Association (EEA) (www.equestrianemployers.org.uk) was set up in response to the results of a study conducted by the British Grooms Association (BGA).
The survey revealed that 57% of respondents who were in an employed position were not paid the national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage, an illegal and “awful” statistic for the industry, according to Lucy Katan, executive director of the BGA and EEA.
It also emerged that 89% of employees were aware of the NMW, although the majority were not receiving this level of income.
Non-compliance with payroll obligations was also prevalent and many grooms said they were working over their contracted hours.
“As an organisation we work to educate employers about their obligations and also inform employees of their legal rights,” said Ms Katan.
“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 in our industry and most importantly grooms.”
The EEA offers a range of support for all those that employ staff within the horse world, including information about pensions and payrolls, legal advice and a contract creator.
Jo Sholl-Evans, who owns Fairlight Stud in north Somerset with her husband Martin Parry, said the EEA fills an important gap in the industry.
“From an employer’s perspective it was the one thing that was really missing,” she told H&H.
“Out stud has grown quickly and we now have 80 horses so need quite a team to look after it.
“We wanted to do the right thing and be on the right side of the law as well as giving our employees good job security — we didn’t want to be bad employers — but it was difficult to collate all the information out there.”
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Mrs Sholl-Evans said she has found the EEA helpline valuable.
“I couldn’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to do it properly. We have an amazing team of people and I feel if you have all your paperwork up to date and you know where you stand everybody feels a bit happier and you know what to expect.”
Annual membership of the EEA costs £37.50.
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