The recruitment industry's main trade body has pledged to help run cowboy internet recruitment agencies out of town by enforcing a new code of practice.
In a meeting late yesterday, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) discussed the problem of the growing number of internet recruitment agencies which are bringing the industry into disrepute.
Unscrupulous agencies are mushrooming on the web, tempted by the low costs of advertising online. Many have been accused of carrying bogus jobs to increase site traffic and blanket bombing companies with CVs without applicants' permission.
The problem has prompted the government to deal with the mavericks in its Employment Agencies Act (currently going through Parliament), but now the REC will help police this growing sector of the recruitment industry and will enter into talks with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) about the best way forward.
Christine Little, external relations director for the REC, said: "We plan to create a code or standard relating specifically to online recruitment agencies. We want to involve people who use the industry as well as people who work in it."
She added: "The code will go beyond the minimum standards imposed by regulations. They will be higher than the standards proposed in the Employment Agencies Act."
Little said that the new code would probably be in place by the summer, and will spell out what online recruitment agencies must do to adhere to current legislation.
"Our code needs to be less complicated and as accessible to as wide a range of people as possible," she added.
Members who violate REC codes can be expelled. Little said they deal with about half a dozen disciplinary hearings a year: "After expulsion we name and shame, but we are looking at putting a fines system in place."
Victoria Lubbock, managing director of agency Recruit Media, said that underhand online recruitment agencies are giving the industry a bad name: "If someone has had a bad experience applying for a fictitious job, it knocks confidence in the industry."
She welcomed the new code of practice proposed for the web agencies: "It's something they should follow. There's no reason why it should be different for them compared to bricks and mortar agencies."
Roderick Wijsmuller, publishing director for online IT recruiter jobworld.co.uk, said: "It's important that we have a code of practice. Jobseekers and providers want to be assured of quality and trust."
He added: "If I were a big company, I would not like to have my name jeopardised by an agency which is unreliable."
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