Apparently it is still 1973 at the DTI.
That year's Employment Agencies Act defines an agency as "providing services, (whether by the provision of information or otherwise) for the purpose of finding workers employment with employers".
For five years, the DTI has been drafting revised regulations, but it has stuck with this definition.
However, recruitment has evolved. Internet job boards now link candidates and employers at a speed and cost which were unthinkable 30 years ago. The DTI has chosen not to move on.
If the DTI has its way, a job board carrying an consultancy's ad will have to vet the agency, identify the employer (and its nature of business), the salary and the start date, confirm the candidate's identity, nanny the employer and the candidate regarding any legal and professional requirements which apply to the post, obtain copies of relevant qualifications … the list goes on.
Employers do not expect - nor want - job boards to provide these services. They want a fast and cheap method of attracting candidates. If they want screening and vetting, they will either do it or commission it. If these regulations go ahead, the job boards will not disappear. The Act applies only to companies operating from premises in the UK, so the UK's job boards will follow Britain's call centres to sunnier climes and it will be adios to one of Britain's few genuinely burgeoning e-commerce sectors.
We applaud the DTI for wanting to protect job-seekers and employers from unscrupulous agencies. But this is not 1973, and times have changed. The consultation period for this lunacy ends at the end of this month, so please e-mail Vic Patterson at the DTI while there's still time to bring about change.
Voice your objections to Vic Patterson, assistant director in the DTI's employment relations directorate, at [email protected], and Stephen Timms, minister of state for e-commerce and competitiveness, at [email protected]
By Andrew Rogers