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UK — REC Complaints Report highlights continued focus on improving standards

04 May 2010

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has today published the 2009 annual report from its Professional Standards team.

Last year, the REC's standards team dealt with 920 initial complaints and inquiries, an increase of +11% on 2008. The 2009 Complaints Report highlights a number of trends, including a substantial increase in the number of initial complaints against non-members and that, for the first time, more complaints were lodged by permanent candidates than those from temporary jobseekers.

Fola Tayo, the REC's Head of Professional Standards, said "the overall rise in initial complaints must be seen against a backdrop of increasing unemployment and much greater awareness of the REC's complaints procedure."

"The report is a wake-up call for recruiters. Government inspectorates are stepping up their enforcement activities in our industry. While the REC continues to investigate all valid complaints, we also focus on helping our members remain compliant, especially as we respond to increasingly complex regulation."

The REC is to continuing to build links with the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS), part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Commenting on the standards agenda, Kevin Green, the REC's Chief Executive, said "the REC is committed to working with the incoming government to address serious breaches and we will continue to enforce our own Code of Conduct. This goes hand in hand with our own awareness-raising campaign 'Serious About Standards' to agencies, employers and jobseekers."

"Legislative changes such as the new Vetting and Barring Scheme and the Agency Work Regulations will increase the focus on compliance and provide opportunities for agencies and recruitment professionals to demonstrate added value to increasingly risk-conscious clients."

All valid complaints against REC members are followed up by the Professional Standards team. In cases where breaches are detected, the agency will be asked to resolve them. The REC will then provide support and guidelines on what policies and procedures need to be put in place or improved.

During 2009, the Professional Standards Team undertook 12 formal investigations against members who had committed more serious breaches of the Code of Practice. Seven of these have been resolved to the REC's satisfaction.

As a result of these investigations, five disciplinary cases went before its Professional Standards Committee. In conclusion of these cases, one reprimand, a further inspection and one compliance order were issued by the Committee while two further cases are still under consideration.
Other findings of the Report were:
  • 40% of the initial complaints lodged were against members and 16% against non-members. 33% of the initial inquiries received were queries mainly about industry practice or the REC's complaints process. 7% were about misuse of the REC logo and 4% about recruitment industry scams.
  • Permanent candidates accounted for 24% of the complaints while 20% were from temporary jobseekers. Another 15% came from clients while the remaining 41% were from member and non-member agencies, employees and ex-employees and the REC itself.
  • Holiday pay and other financial issues such as non-payment of wages accounted for 47% of the complaints while other topics included unprofessional conduct, customer care and false advertising.
  • 17% of the complaints were received from people wishing to remain anonymous. These cannot be pursued unless the REC receives full disclosure.



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