Recruitment industry experts expect to see a number of changes to the Conduct Regulations that govern the activity of recruitment agencies in the UK following consultation with the industry and interested parties in the next few months.
Radical changes to the Conduct Regulations are one of the recommendations of the Beecroft Report, which was published last night after being leaked to the Telegraph amid huge controversy.
As well as the recommendation for no-fault dismissal, which would allow employees to be dismissed without reason, Beecroft also made recommendations of direct relevance to the staffing industry. Conduct Regulations Recommendation
: The regulations should be simplified and largely replaced by a Non-Statutory Code of Practice. “Probably the only area that needs to be regulated by statute concerns agencies charging fees to job seekers,” says Beecroft.. Gangmasters Licensing Authority Recommendation
: Abolishing the GLA should be seriously considered. Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate Recommendation
: EASI should be closed when the Non-Statutory Code of Practice has been introduced. Agency Workers Regulations (report written before end of 2011) Recommendation
: the government should decide whether the likely consequences of not implementing the AWR is worth bearing in order to avoid the damaging effects of AWR.
Tom Hadley, Recruitment and Employment (REC) director of policy & professional Services, tells Recruiter
that he expects action on the Conduct Regulations. However, he doesn’t believe that the changes will go as far as Beecroft recommends. “The review of the Conduct Regulations is going to happen, and we expect a consultation exercise in the next few months.
“The Conduct Regulations will be streamlined and brought up to date, but there will be protection for workers.”
Hadley says the most important issue is enforcement, with one possible option being to focus on those in the industry who are not members of trade bodies, or signed up to codes of conduct.
Kevin Barrow, partner in Osborne Clarke’s recruitment team, agrees there will be a number of changes to the Conduct Regulations. He tells Recruiter
that the regulations need to be less onerous, particularly the checks carried out on workers. These include checks on their identity, for example.
It is also important to clarify who is caught by the Conduct Regulations, for example whether they cover social networking sites.
As reported yesterday, Beecroft made a number of recommendations to reduce the red tape
that many employers believe is hindering growth and job creation.
Sam Hurley head of external affairs at the APSCo (Association of Professional Staffing Companies) tells Recruiter
: “SME businesses in particular often do not have the in-house specialist resource available to deal with the sometimes extremely complicated procedures required by employment law.
This can lead to SMEs being very wary of expanding and taking on new members of staff. Although APSCo clearly wouldn't want to see any rise in unfair behaviour towards employees by the small minority of unscrupulous employers, it does believe that the obligations of current employment law are heavily weighted against small business growth."