PRESS RELEASE 13 February 2020

Responsible Car Wash Scheme welcomes call for licencing by DLME  

The current regulatory regime for hand car washes is complex, and involves a number of pieces of legislation with no single agency responsible for overall enforcement.   The Responsible Car Wash Scheme, since its inception in October 2018, has been working tirelessly to create a pressure for compliance within the hand car wash industry through a voluntary scheme designed to drive up standards.

Hand car washes have consistently been identified as one of a number of areas where workers are vulnerable to exploitation and poor working conditions. Violation of labour, employment, health and safety and environmental regulations are well documented, as are incidences of more serious criminal activity such as human trafficking and modern slavery.

The RCWS, through its work with the GLAA, the HSE, Police forces and Local Authorities has made significant progress in engaging with the hand car wash industry and working with landlords to identify compliant operators to work from their premises. The RCWS has been welcomed by the industry, but compliant Operators being under-cut by rogue competitors, are calling for the RCWS accreditation to be mandatory.

In response to the Director of Labour Market Enforcement, Mathew Taylor’s, call for licensing of hand car washes, Teresa Sayers, Managing Director of the RCWS said:

The RCWS supports the DLME’s recommendation that a mandatory licensing scheme be introduced for hand car washes. Whilst we have identified compliant sites, labour exploitation and other non-compliances such as health and safety breaches, environmental pollution and failure to gain consent to operate are unfortunately commonplace.  The continued presence and use of non-compliant car washes normalises non-compliance including illegal labour practices, and damages the reputation of the industry and those associated with it. It is important that compliant sites are recognised and the playing field levelled by the removal of rogue operators.

The RCWS Code of Practice provides a compliance framework for hand car wash operators and can be used as the basis for a mandatory licensing scheme. The implementation of a mandatory licensing scheme must not be protracted, allowing rogue operators to continue to operate with impunity. It must also be applied consistently across the UK and appropriately resourced to ensure robust enforcement. The RCWS will continue to work with the GLAA, the Police and Local Authorities to promote the RCWS accreditation as a pre-cursor to licensing.”

A key strength of the RCWS is the support it has from its founding members and supporters which include five major supermarkets, the GLAA, HSE, EA, HMRC, the Police, the Charity Unseen and the national hand car wash operator Waves. In addition to being instrumental in its development, they will continue to be involved in the scheme’s governance, overseeing the audit regime and maintaining the scheme’s code of practice whilst licencing is being implemented.   

Managing Director of RCWS Teresa Sayers is available for interview


For further information please contact Emily Cooper ( ) or visit