Measures outlined by leader of the Labour party Ed Miliband to crackdown on rogue agencies have been challenged by many in the recruitment industry.
In yesterday’s attack on “cowboy” agencies, Miliband said he would begin consultations before the next election on different ways to ensure recruitment agencies clean up their act. These include a licensing system to ensure they comply with basic standards or are stopped from operating.
In a press statement, Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), described Ed Miliband’s comments as “another episode of random business bashing”.
Recruiters commenting on Miliband’s statements in yesterday’s Recruiter’s article were somewhat harsher in their criticism of the Labour leader.
Adrian Hobbs said: “Again another politician out of tune with reality. Flexible UK Plc couldn’t happen without us and it is the customers who these days determine the pay rates for many agency staff. Focus on what you do best Mr Miliband… which is what exactly?”
Recruitment industry entrepreneur Graham Palfery-Smith posted: “As if we needed any more evidence of Millibean’s [sic] utter and complete inadequacy. The man is a dangerous fool who does not have the first idea of how a sophisticated modern economy or its key components work.”
However, Adam Groves believes Miliband is correct in his assertion of rogue recruiters within the industry, saying: “Miliband touches the tip of the iceberg. The industry (in which I have worked for many years) is rotten to the core, at least among the high-volume, lower-paid elements. So many scams are practised which exploit both temps and HMRC that an overhaul is long overdue and desperately needed.”
In response to Miliband’s call for 400,000 more engineers in the UK, Mark Flawn commented: “I wonder if 17 years of his predecessors being in charge of the UK has anything to do with the lack of future-proofing our highly skilled workforce and economy… Maybe his Top Hat is larger than anyone else’s. I’ve checked in mine but cannot see any white rabbits.”
Commenting on Miliband’s proposals on licensing, Green said REC was already actively involved in the Gangmaster Licensing Authority (GLA), which plays a key role in gathering intelligence and stopping exploitation.
“We do not support the formal expansion of licensing as we do not believe the licensing process itself is what drives out criminal activity,” Green said. “However, we are passionate about supporting the GLA to gather intelligence and prosecute criminal gangs who infiltrate the legitimate labour market, and will work with any politicians who want to develop new policies in this area.”
Miliband also described the Swedish Derogation as a legal loophole that needed to be closed. Under the Agency Workers Regulations, the clause exempts an employment agency from having to pay the worker the same rate of pay, as long as the agency directly employs the individual and guarantees to pay them for at least four weeks during the times they cannot find them work.
Green said: “Pay between assignments – or the Swedish Derogation – was agreed under the previous Labour government with the support of the CBI and TUC. It is not a loophole, it is law. As with any new legislation, any sudden changes to these regulations – which took years to bed in – could have a negative impact on the jobs market.”
We give Dave Ainscow the final word on the Labour leader’s remarks, in his post on recruiter.co.uk saying: “He just doesn’t get it, does he? They (The Labour Party) would, if they could, get rid of the recruitment industry as it stands and have a government-run one … We have been a thorn in their sides for the past 30 odd years – shame we have been so successful for the economy of the UK!!”