More checks on temps working with the needy

Recruitment agencies supplying temporary staff that work with at-risk groups
such as children, will now be responsible for ‘taking all reasonable steps’ to
ensure their staff are safe and suitable for the role.

Under new Government rules, agencies that supply temporary staff to work
with children or the elderly and infirm will now have to check relevant
qualifications and receive two references before a placement can be made.

Ben Willmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of
Personnel and Development (CIPD) said the reforms would help employers recruit
reliable and safe individuals.

"HR professionals should welcome the amended regulations because they
place greater obligations on agencies to check on the identity and background
of candidates to ensure they are suitable for the positions they are put
forward for," he said.

The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations, due
to come into force in early April, will affect around 700,000 agency workers
and 17,000 employment agencies in the UK.

Other changes include a ‘quarantine’ period of a minimum of eight weeks and
a maximum of 14 weeks before the worker will be free to take up a permanent
post at the hiring company without that company having to pay a transfer fee.

Historically, large transfer fees payable in this situation have often
dissuaded hirers from taking an agency worker onto their books.

The new rules will be policed by the DTI’s Employment Agency Standards
Inspectorate. Each offence will attract penalties of up to £5,000 and a
potential 10-year ban on operating as an agency.

Marcia Roberts, deputy chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment
Confederation, said: "Penalties for proven breaches should be meaningful
and work as a deterrent, and they should be raised in line with inflation each
year."

By Mike Berry

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