Ed Miliband’s plans to crackdown on “cowboy employment agencies” could put thousands of jobs at risk, Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has said. Recruiters have placed more than 630,000 people into permanent jobs in the last year, said Green, and a “knee-jerk policy reaction” to stop people earning money through agency work would be a “huge mistake.” “On any given day 1.15 million people go out to work on a temporary or contract assignment secured via a recruitment agency…and “a quarter of people in Britain have taken jobs as agency workers at some point in their careers.
It is a mainstream part of the economy and our flexible labour market, which has seen us do so much better than our European neighbours,” he said. “Any measures undertaken by the next government must take full consideration as to the impact changes might have on the recovery.” Green’s comments follow Miliband’s speech yesterday (Monday 24 November) in which he outlined measures to stop a number of “rogue” agencies from exploiting workers. As part of the measures, the Labour party has promised to close loopholes, which allow employment agencies to undercut wages of permanent staff; ban employment agencies recruiting only from abroad, and to introduce a licensing system to ensure agencies are complying with basic standards.
But Green said many of the Miliband’s proposals were already happening in practice, and the agreement to pay between assignments – Swedish Derogation – was agreed under the previous Labour government with the support of the CBI and TUC. “It is not a loophole, it is the law,” he said. “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.” As part of his speech, Miliband blamed “rogue” employment agencies recruiting exclusively from abroad for the high-levels of low skilled migrant workers coming to the UK. “I am bemused as to why politicians believe it is necessary to ‘crackdown’ on agencies that hire exclusively from overseas. British agencies have to list all vacancies in Britain and in English. That is already the law.
Advertising exclusively overseas is already prohibited under the Equality Act and the current government is about to introduce another new rule to the Conduct Regulations that explicitly prohibits this activity,” Green said. “We represent over 80 per cent of the UK’s recruitment industry by value, and agencies have to abide by the law, our code of professional practice and pass our compliance test in order to call themselves an REC member. “The language Miliband has used today to smear our members is an insult to the 90 thousand hard-working people employed in the UK’s recruitment industry whose mission every day is to find suitable jobs for people who want to work and make a living,” he added.