ATSCo seeks to exclude 'personal service companies' from new agency regs

Recruitment companies were urged by a DTI official this week to make individual representations to his Department for the latest consultation exercise on the Draft Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations.

Speaking at the September meeting of the Association of Technology Staffing Companies (ATSCo), Vic Patterson, Assistant Director at the DTI responsible for bringing in new legislation covering the conduct of the private recruitment industry, said that individual company submissions would be welcomed. He pointed out that this was the third consultation on the draft conduct regulations, something which was quite exceptional but which showed that the “Government listens”. This period of consultation ends on November 1st.

Most of the discussion with ATSCo members revolved around two issues: time sheets and whether personal service companies should be excluded from the regulations.

Members pressed Patterson over the risks staffing companies could be exposed to by a ban on making payment to workers conditional on the provision of authenticated timesheets. He explained that the DTI was currently reviewing the wording of this regulation to see if it needed clarification.

ATSCo is one of the trade bodies in the private recruitment industry, with whom the DTI is working to produce a plain English guide to the new legislation.

ATSCo members at the meeting were unanimous in proposing that personal service companies should be excluded from the regulation. This is one of the issues on which the DTI is inviting comments in the latest consultation exercise.

“ATSCo, PCG and the REC IT Division are carrying out a joint survey of contractor views on this matter,” said Ann Swain, Chief Executive of ATSCo.

Swain also welcomed the fact that Patterson had been prepared to “enter the lions’ den” by speaking at an ATSCo members’ meeting. “I know that he found the opportunity to discuss these issues with the industry’s practitioners worthwhile.”

“We still hold very serious concerns over the proposed regulations and will be making further representations,” she said, “but the DTI have shown a genuine interest in our concerns and Vic’s willingness to attend the ATSCo meeting shows a will to work with the industry. We had a frank but civil session and I am sure this helped to put the industry’s view across. It was also useful for members to hear face-to-face the DTI’s perspective on some of the issues involved.”

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