Responding to reports in the papers alledging that Labour Leader, Ed Miliband criticised “rogue” employment agencies, recruiting exclusively from abroad, for driving the high levels of low-skilled migration to the UK (FT 24 November 2014) the chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation Kevin Green hit back at length, saying:

“This is just silly. It’s another episode of random business bashing from Ed Miliband. As he himself acknowledges, employment agencies and businesses are good quality, compliant organisations who work hard to secure both permanent and temporary work for people.  In the last year alone, recruiters in this country have helped more than 630,000 people find a new permanent job and on any given day 1.15 million people go out to work on a temporary or contract assignment secured via a recruitment agency.

“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. Any measures undertaken by the next government must take full consideration as to the impact changes might have on the recovery.

“The Labour Party is very clear that they must support those people who want and choose to work flexibly. A knee-jerk policy reaction that stops people being able to get employment and earn money as agency workers would be a huge mistake.

“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.”

“We are looking for a mature and consultative relationship with the Labour party and its current leadership and are really disappointed with Mr Miliband’s remarks today. As the professional body for the recruitment industry we are keen to work with politicians from all parties to ensure the labour market as a whole and the individuals within it continue to prosper.”

On the details of his proposals around Swedish Derogation, advertising overseas and licensing of agencies Kevin Green added:

“Pay between assignments – or Swedish Derogation – was agreed under the previous Labour government with the support of the CBI and the TUC.  It is not a loophole, it is the law. 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.

“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.”

“Mr Miliband also proposes new licensing arrangements. We are already actively involved in the Gangmaster Licensing Authority which plays a key role in gathering intelligence and stopping exploitation. We do not support the formal expansion of licensing, as we do not believe the licensing process itself is what drives out criminal activity. However, we are passionate about supporting the GLA to gather intelligence and prosecute criminal gangs who infiltrate the legitimate labour market, and will work with any politicians who want to develop new policies in this area.”

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