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Employment Agency Standards

Volume 489: debated on Thursday 19 March 2009

I am today launching a consultation on proposed amendments to the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003. These regulations govern the conduct of the private recruitment industry and set minimum standards for employment agencies and employment businesses operating from premises in Great Britain.

This exercise is not directly related to the implementation of the EU agency workers directive, on which a separate consultation will be launched in due course.

The consultation I am launching today focuses on a range of issues. First, we want to take practical steps to tackle the bad practice of some rogue agencies in the entertainment and modelling sector where, despite cooling off measures introduced last year in respect of upfront fees, we know that abuse continues.

Secondly, we want to introduce greater clarity and lines of responsibility between employment agencies and businesses that use them, particularly in respect of suitability checks for workers introduced for permanent recruitment. We think this offers potential to reduce regulatory and administrative burdens on the recruitment industry sector without compromising appropriate protections for workers, employers and vulnerable groups.

Thirdly, this consultation also offers the opportunity for us to restore postgraduate medical deaneries, who are responsible for the recruitment and training programme of junior doctors and junior dentists to NHS employers, to their previous position as a body exempt from employment agency legislation.

We also invite views on a number of additional areas that we have identified in the conduct regulations that we think offer scope for reducing administrative burdens on employment agencies and businesses, or where we consider measures may be necessary to offer greater protection for vulnerable agency workers.

These proposals would, overall, be burden-reducing for the private recruitment industry, but also address areas of continuing concern regarding rogue operators. They demonstrate the Government’s commitment both to help business through difficult times and to ensure effective protection for the vulnerable.

The consultation will close on 11 June and will be followed by a Government response.