Defra Eases Guidance On Staffing

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DEFRA eases guidance on staffing
21st November 2018

By Sandra Pearce

DEFRA has amended one of the guidance notes on staffing in the newly-introduced animal activities regulations.

The new regulations came into force on October 1 and introduced a set of compulsory minimum standards for licensed animal establishments. The regime also introduces a starred system by which all businesses will be rated.

A business that meets the Higher Standards can gain a four or five-star rating and will qualify for a longer licence (eg. two or three years as opposed to a one-year licence).

In the guidance notes for selling animals as pets, Condition 4.2 states: “The licence holder or a designated manager and any staff employed to care for the animals must have competence to identify the normal behaviour of the species for which they are caring and to recognise signs of, and take appropriate measures to mitigate or prevent, pain, suffering, injury, disease or abnormal behaviour.”

In order to attain a Higher Standard rating, it states: “There must be a member of permanent, full-time staff with an OFQUAL regulated Level 3 qualification that is appropriate to the species kept.”

However, the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association said that DEFRA has confirmed that this Higher Standard is ‘not to be considered mandatory’. This means that retailers do not need an OFQUAL-regulated Level 3 qualification to achieve a four or five-star rating.

An OATA spokesman said: “We were pleased to hear during a recent discussion with DEFRA that they have listened to our concerns about this Higher Standard. By turning it back to optional it means businesses have greater choice on the Higher Standards they can aim to achieve, rather than being hampered by a mandatory standard that required them to take an expensive qualification with little application to aquatic-only businesses.

“We believe our specialist training packages – which we are currently revamping for a relaunch later this year – are much better for aquatic pet shops because they focus exclusively on the species sold by the staff, a key requirement of any pet shop licensing regime across the UK.”

OATA members can access a number of documents and templates in the members' area of the OATA website to help with inspections under the new regulations. OATA is also encouraging its members to provide feedback on their experiences of the new licensing regime at info@ornamentalfish.org. More info on OATA and membership can be found at https://ornamentalfish.org/