Recruiters urged to put anti-abuse policies in place to protect workers

Recruiters have been urged to have robust policies in place to effectively deal with confrontational candidates.

The advice follows a case that Recruiter reported about late last week in which a visitor to a Redditch recruitment agency racially abused staff.

Commenting on the case, employment lawyers offered their advice to agencies having to contend with similar circumstances.

Stephen Jennings, partner & solicitor at Tozer Solicitors, advised agencies to take the following steps.

  • Carry out a risk assessment to ensure appropriate health & safety. Are there simple steps that can be taken to remove or reduce the risk, such as banning lone working or installing panic alarms?
  • Involve staff – consult with them about what steps you can take to keep them safe and what risks they perceive. Ensure staff are instructed to follow and comply with these steps.
  • Ensure staff know what to do when confronted with aggression. This should be discussed and agreed but, in essence, is likely to involve keeping calm and asking for assistance from a colleague (or the police in a serious case).

“The action each agency takes is likely to differ depending on their staff, set-up of their offices/working practices and the nature of the risks involved,” Jennings added. “Employers should ensure (and document) that they have carefully considered employee safety, and arrangements should be reviewed regularly to ensure they remain effective and are known to/implemented by staff.”

Jahad Rahman, partner at Rahman Lowe Solicitors, echoed Jennings’ sentiments, advising recruiters to adopt a zero tolerance approach to dealing with violent and aggressive behaviour towards consultants. 

“Reinforcing the fact that staff should be treated with respect, training on recognising violent behaviour, and utilising criminal and civil proceedings are also important factors. Of course, it would be the victim’s responsibility to press charges but companies should offer support.”

Meanwhile Melanie Stancliffe, partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell, told Recruiter agencies are not likely to be found to have failed in their duty to care to workers discriminated against by candidates on their premises.

“From a discrimination point of view, since the cases involving Bernard Manning – where he harassed two black members of staff at an event at a hotel, and the hotel was held responsible at the time – there’s been a flip-flop on that, so legally the employer is not responsible for the racial or sexual or other epithets coming out of an individual’s mouth if they are not their employee. They are liable for what their employees do but not the man on the street who comes in and hurls racial abuse, so from that point of view there is some protection and light at the end of the tunnel for employers, but they still have the same basic health & safety type duty of care.”

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