Recruiters must comply with broader restrictions on advertising roles in other European economic area (EEA) countries or face bans from operating recruitment businesses – or even jail, employment lawyers warn.
In January 2015, government changed the rules on overseas recruitment to stop agencies from advertising vacancies in other EEA countries without also advertising them in Britain and in English.
However, in its response to its consultation, part of which covered prohibiting EEA-only recruitment, published last week, government is now proposing the extension of these rules to wider recruitment campaigns involving multiple vacancies. Previously they only applied if recruiters were looking to fill one specific vacancy.
David Whincup, labour & employment partner at law firm Squire Patton Boggs, warns the government’s response to the consultation makes clear that non-compliance with these rules will result in the agency breaking the law.
“This is not merely a suggested method of recruitment but one which will be enshrined in law in the coming months,” Whincup told Recruiter. “The recruitment sector needs to make sure that it changes existing protocols ahead of this legislation coming into effect,” he added.
And recruiters face stiff penalties for non-compliance with these rules, warns Chris Tutton, partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell.
Tutton told Recruiter these penalties include civil action where agencies can be sued by applicants for loss of earnings and damages, a 10-year ban from acting as a recruitment business, or criminal convictions and unlimited fines.
Although, recruiters can mount a defence to such challenges, Tutton adds.
“A recruitment agency will have a defence against enforcement action for a breach on the rules on overseas recruitment if it can show that it reasonably believed that advertising the vacancy in English in Great Britain would be disproportionate, having regard to the likelihood that this would result in no applications from anyone with the necessary skills.”
The government consultation attracted just 30 responses – only three of which were from recruitment agencies.
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