There are a number of trade associations that represent staffing companies throughout the world, and many countries have rival associations competing for members. While you might expect the aims and objectives of these trade associations to be broadly similar, their views often differ significantly: the perception of what role an association should play varies from organization to organization.
While it’s the staffing firms being represented, companies that use their services should be aware of the associations’ activities. The trade associations play an important role in a number of areas that will affect companies’ ability to source agency temporaries. They help to shape legislation within individual markets, lobbying governments on behalf of the staffing industry; they set professional standards in individual markets by establishing codes of conduct; they participate as “social partners” in collective bargaining (which effectively sets temporary pay rates in certain markets); they provide market data; and in some countries they even fulfill a quasi-legal function.
The mothership of staffing trade associations in Europe is Ciett, the Confédération Internationale des Entreprises de Travail Temporaire or, to give it a more mundane English translation, the International Confederation of Private Employment Agencies. Forty-six national federations are members of Ciett and, while this includes most of the important national associations, there are a few that remain unaffiliated. Ciett’s board also consists of a number of corporate member representatives from major staffing companies such as Adecco, Hudson, Kelly, Manpower, Randstad, USG People and, more recently, the fast-growing Italian staffing firm, GI Group.
Established in 1967, Ciett’s main objective is to “help its members conduct their businesses in a legal and regulatory environment that is positive and supportive.” It acts on behalf of the staffing industry at an international level, negotiating with other international bodies such as the International Labor Organisation, OECD, World Bank and ITUC. Ciett also undertakes important regional activities at a ‘continental’ level. For example, Eurociett represents the staffing industry in dialogue with (and within) the European Union, while Conferación Latinamericana de Empresas de Trabajo Temporario y Actividades Afines (clett&a) acts on behalf of national associations within Latin America.
Perhaps Ciett’s most significant achievement was to reverse the International Labor Organisation’s official position regarding the private employment agency industry in 1997 from strict prohibition to formal recognition (Convention n°181). More recently, Eurociett played an instrumental role in helping social partners to reach consensus on the Agency Workers Directive, which comes into effect throughout Europe at the end of this year.
The national association with the longest history is the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), which has roots going back to the 1930s and which now has 3,600 U.K. corporate members. While it claims to be the voice of the U.K. staffing industry, another association, APSCo (Association of Professional Staffing Companies), focuses more specifically on representing the interests of staffing companies providing higher-skilled, qualified temporaries such as IT, engineering and accountancy/finance contractors.
Another well-established national association is ABU (Algemene Bond Uitzendondernemingen) which this year celebrated its 50th anniversary and represents the interests of Dutch staffing companies. Like other associations in continental Europe, ABU negotiates collective agreements on behalf of its members. It regulates not only pay but also termination, education/training, pensions and expenses. The association also negotiates framework agreements to provide temporary workers with sickness benefit and health insurance.
At the other end of the scale, the newest national associations are ISF (India) and APEA (Russia), both of which became affiliated with Ciett in May 2011. The establishment of these associations is indicative of the development of professional temporary staffing provision in these markets.
Selecting a staffing company that is a member of the wrong associations can prove expensive. For example, the recent decision by the highest Labour Court in Germany that the collective agreement negotiated between the Association of Medium-sized Temporary Employment Agencies (AMP) and the Christian Unions was invalid exposes members of the AMP and their clients to claims for compensation from temporary workers and from the government for underpaid social contributions and pension payments. Members of another German staffing association, the Association of Temporary Employment Agencies, were not affected by this ruling as they had signed different collective bargaining agreements with a different union.
Following is a list of all the main national staffing associations:
|Australia & New Zealand||RCSA||www.rcsa.com.au/|
|Poland||Polskie Forum HR||www.polskieforumhr.pl/|