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Government proposal to prohibit EEA-only recruitment by employment agencies

In October 2015 the Government consulted on proposed changes to the “Conduct Regulations”, which govern the recruitment sector. The response to the consultation was published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) last week and confirms the Government’s intention to proceed with the majority of the proposals within the consultation.

One key plan is to strengthen the existing legislation to prevent employment agencies from advertising jobs in other EEA countries without advertising in Great Britain, either before or at the same time. The advertisement would also need to be in English. At present this restriction only applies to specific vacancies, however, the Government intends to extend it to all generic recruitment campaigns carried out by employment agencies/businesses.  The Responses to the consultation suggest that this change may not impact significantly on the employment agencies/businesses or hirers themselves but the majority of respondents did feel that it would have a positive impact on work-seekers.  Thirteen per cent of the respondents felt that the regulations did not go far enough in this regard stating that organisations could get around the prohibition by using agencies based outside of Great Britain.

The consultation also asked for comments on removing regulation 27 of the Conduct Regulations, which sets out a requirement that employment agencies/businesses ensure certain specific information is included in job adverts.  However, 60% of respondents to the consultation raised concerns that this would have a negative impact on work-seekers as more unscrupulous agencies could advertise vacancies on terms that didn’t reflect the reality of the position available. In light of the strong responses and concerns raised in relation to this proposal, the Government has decided to retain regulation 27.


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The response does outline proposals to remove some existing regulations with the overall aim of giving the recruitment sector more freedom. However, many of these amendments are unlikely to have a significant impact in practice. For example, the removal of the obligation on employment agencies/businesses to agree terms with hirers is unlikely to change the fact that, in reality, most employment agencies/businesses will still want to have a commercial agreement which governs the supply of staff

It is not yet known when the proposed reforms will be introduced.

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