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Government consults on reform of agency regulations
by Susie Hughes at 12:50 18/01/13 (News on Agents)
The Government is consulting on whether or not to allow employment agencies to move to a more self regulatory regime.
The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has issued an open consultation on reforming the regulatory framework for employment agencies.

Fit for purpose
The consultation states: "This legislation, which regulates the recruitment sector, is complicated and difficult for businesses and individuals to understand. This consultation is seeking views on our proposal to establish a new, fit for purpose regulatory framework with minimum regulation. We want the sector to take a more active role in developing its own methods of maintaining standards so that it has the confidence of hiring companies and people seeking work."

The aim, according to BIS, is to reform how the sector is regulated and to remove costly and complex regulations where possible. It also noted that the Regulations could be simplified in some places where they are too complicated and difficult to understand; and that, the current criminal regime is unlike the majority of UK employment law which is enforced through civil employment tribunals, which may present a barrier to individuals seeking redress.

This consultation document then asks for views on when it is appropriate for the Government to impose rules on the recruitment sector and when it is more appropriate for the sector and marketplace to decide the rules for themselves.

Outcomes
BIS wants the future system to achieve four outcomes for people and businesses that use recruitment firms:

  • Employment businesses and employment agencies are restricted from charging fees to work-seekers
  • There is clarity on who is responsible for paying temporary workers for the work they have done
  • The contracts people have with recruitment firms should not hinder their movement between jobs, and temp-to-perm transfer fees are reasonable
  • Work-seekers have the confidence to use the sector and are able to assert their rights.

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The Association of Recruitment Consultancies (ARC) was one of the first representative groups to respond. Adrian Marlowe, chairman of the ARC said: “This consultation has been expected for some time and follows a number of reviews undertaken by Government including under its red tape challenge.

“The primary area of concern we have is that, whilst it may be appropriate to change some rules to ensure that any current unfairness is ruled out, the current rules do underpin and promote professionalism within the industry.

“Since 2003, when the regulations were introduced, professionalism has increased and statistics show that the number of successful complaints have steadily decreased to a very low level. The BIS inspectorate team has done an excellent job and agencies have worked hard to improve standards. Many agencies believe that the rules also mirror good commercial practice. They certainly help to keep cowboy operators, who can damage the reputation of the industry as a whole, at bay.

“Given this success story we will undertake our review of the proposals with the objective that the result achieves the appropriate balance. This must continue to support good standards within the industry, and also ensure that the outcome avoids unfairness which favours larger businesses over small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).”

Closing date for responses to the consultation is April 11, 2013. The full document can be viewed here: Consultation on reforming the regulatory framework for employment agencies and employment businesses.

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Susie Hughes © Shout99 2013

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Government consults on reform ... Susie Hughes - 18/01
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