Consultation into Agency Conduct Regulations announced

The government has today announced a consultation into the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003, otherwise known as the ‘Conduct Regulations’ or ‘Agency Regulations’.

The Association of Recruitment Consultancies (ARC) has always lobbied government on behalf of the recruitment industry and has responded quickly to the announcement.

The principle aspects under consideration are;

1.         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.

The ARC made this initial comment:

This considers whether the way forwards is self-regulation and it follows the thinking set out in the Beacroft Report on Employment Reform published last year. That report suggested that only a core set of regulations should be retained as legislation with the bulk remainder being included in a non-statutory code of conduct enforced by a trade body.

2.         Views on enforcement and whether individual enforcement would be more effective than the current government enforcement regime.

The ARC made this initial comment:

This appears to suggest that rather than have a regime of complaints handled by The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), in future any complaint should take the form of a claim by an individual worker to an employment tribunal.

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).”

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