There have been recent reports suggesting the possibility of the Employment Agency Standards inspectorate at BIS being merged with the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (“GLA”). It would not appear that there are any firm proposals for this to happen, just an announcement by employment relations minister, Ed Davey, that government is to review workplace rights, compliance and enforcement arrangements. Such a merger is however a possibility and opens up the debate as to whether licensing should be re-introduced to the recruitment industry.
Licensing is currently in place in food packaging and production sectors by virtue of the GLA. However there have been calls to extend the remit of the GLA to both construction and hospitality. The feedback that Lawspeed has received from recruiters currently regulated by the GLA is that the requirement for licensing does not prevent rogues from operating, leaving recruiters who operate in accordance with the law feeling dissatisfied on a number of levels, most telling of which is that they feel that rogues go unpunished and appear to be able to operate with impunity. This begs the bigger question as to whether any licensing scheme, even in a specific sector, will be warranted and whether it will in fact achieve the desired intentions.
The only real argument in favour of a licensing scheme for recruiters would be to target rogue providers. However if existing schemes do not achieve that result, is it really proportionate to expect the remainder of the industry to incur what is in effect unnecessary time, costs and administration? Given recent economic issues and impending new legislation such as the Agency Worker Regulations some would argue it is not proportionate.
It is perhaps also worth asking whether the recruitment industry needs any additional or more heavy handed regulations?
Whether there will be any change remains to be seen, as to date there are neither any firm proposals nor a formal consultation.