Members of the Association of Recruitment Consultancies (ARC) outlined their concerns about the idea of industry self-regulation, as proposed in the Government consultation on the Agency Conduct Regulations.
As well as a diminution of standards, they fear that the main beneficiaries from a self-regulatory environment could be job boards and what they describe as 'less professional organisations'.
ARC has sent a clear message of 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) who is leading on t he consultation to move the agency market place towards more self regulation and away from Government intervention.
Adrian Marlowe, chairman of the ARC and director of legal specialists to the recruitment sector, Lawspeed, said: “ARC members reject the idea of self-regulation, which may cause standards to drop with few advantages for the industry, the main winners being job boards and less professional organisations.
“We oppose material change to the rules on transfer fees, which work well, or to enforcement through the Employment Tribunal, which would increase costs and engender an element of fear with no tangible benefit to workers."
In the past, and in other sectors, it has almost been a format whereby the Government offers the opportunity to self-regulate with the unspoken threat that if the industry or sector cannot get its act together, then the Government will step in and regulate. In many cases, this has been all that it has taken for the industry to attempt to make best practise, common practise.
The recruitment industry is somewhat different as the Government is talking about moving away from its existing control and passing more of the responsibility to the agencies themselves.
But one concern expressed by ARC is the rise of the online sector and how self regulation might benefit that area at a wider detrimental cost to the existing standards within the industry.
Mr Marlow said: “What is clear is that the consultation is the Government’s reaction to the red tape challenge and the employment law review as well as lobbying from various quarters including the online sector.
“However, whilst it is true that online services are now widely used and technology has moved ahead, when it comes down to it a change just to suit modern methods of communication is not justification for abandoning overriding points of principle or allowing carefully built up standards to slip.
“Also it is hard to see any case for extending the rules to companies that do not provide work finding services, for example umbrella companies – to suggest otherwise is to miss the purpose of the regulations, namely to protect workers.
“As many of our members have said to me, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The sea change contemplated by the consultation would definitely be a step into the dark for the industry.”
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Susie Hughes © Shout99 2013