Licensing Debate

The issue of whether recruitment companies should be licensed remains one that will probably remain open for consideration for years to come. Clearly some agencies want it and others do not, and the idea of driving out so called “rogue agencies” is one that obviously appeals to all legitimately run operations.

However setting up a new licensing regime would plainly be difficult. If the proposal is to be taken forward at all, even to a preliminary consideration stage, the reasoning behind it and the advantages must be set out clearly and transparently. Any advantage must be to the industry as a whole, not just to those who would want to use it for their individual company benefit, for example for operations abroad. In addition the nature of the target “rogue agencies” should be identified and everyone should be satisfied that existing laws are insufficient to drive them out. As things stand the Department of BIS has significant powers, toughened up last year, to address breaches of the Agency Regulations and it is clear that the government has little or no appetite to introduce more rules.

To clarify the government’s current position the ARC spoke to the department of BIS recently, and received the following reply: “I can confirm that an extension of the GLA licence scheme is not on the government’s agenda. The government is committed to effective, risk-based enforcement by the Employment Agency Standards inspectorate and the government’s other workplace enforcement bodies, which already regulate these sectors.”

Whilst licensing may remain an issue, it is clearly one that is “on the shelf”. If and when the time comes to dust it off there should first be a proposal setting out all the pros and cons, followed then by a broad consensus from industry representatives before any steps are taken. In this regard we could do a lot worse than following the rules for companies wanting to change their constitution, where at least a 75% majority of members voting are required in favour if a change is to be made.

In the meantime let’s keep focussed on the issues that really matter.


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