A national survey into the working conditions in the equine industry has uncovered evidence that a high percentage of grooms are working illegally. 

The results show that a number of employers are not adequately providing for their staff and so the association is increasing its efforts to secure fair working conditions for its members.

Nearly 1100 grooms and 160 employers responded to the survey, which highlighted that grooms are, on average, being paid more than £2 below the National Minimum Wage. (Currently £6.31 for workers aged 21 and over and £5.03 for 18 to 20 year olds.)

High turnover was also an issue raised, with only 18% of grooms having been in their current role for over five years. Of those that had left the industry 57% cited 'poor working conditions' as the main reason.

The survey also indicated that normal working practices in other industries were not often evident among grooms;

  • 56% of grooms did not receive pay slips, and 56% did not have a written contract of employment, both of which are legal requirements.
  • Over 60% of respondents worked more than 5 days per week; 10% claim to work 7 days per week. A working week averaged 49 hours.
  • 46% stated they did not get paid holiday.
  • 45% did not receive sick pay of any sort.
  • 70% did not get paid overtime or receive time off in lieu when they worked longer than their normal day.
  • 90% are not paying into a pension fund of any sort.
  • Only 20% have regular appraisals with their employer.

Executive Director of the BGA, Lucy Katan commented; “Unfortunately these results come as no surprise to us; the current situation is untenable. We clearly need to offer further education to both grooms and employers, we simply cannot ignore or tolerate these illegal working conditions. With this evidence our industry must make the changes it needs to in order to modernise. Improved employment conditions for grooms will have a positive impact on the industry as a whole and are very long overdue.”

Chief Executive of the British Equestrian Federation, Andrew Finding, commented: “The evidence here points to an unacceptable situation in our industry. It seems that too many employers are breaking the law by not providing pay slips, contracts and all the other necessary elements of employment. Grooms are such an important part of our industry and need to be treated with the same care and consideration as any other employee. We encourage both parties alike to discuss openly between themselves what are private but vital arrangements so that the expectations of both parties can be met so as to prevent such inadequacies as are cited here.”