The Common Pitfalls in Temporary Recruitment Non-Compliance

We are delighted to publish this guest article from Charles Austin, Client Services Director, Comensura, the supply management specialists.
The Recruitment & Employment Federation recently reported that over a third of people with hiring responsibilities have recruited temporary workers. It’s clearly commonplace across a range of industries, from local government to retail, to meet staffing needs more efficiently by complementing a permanent workforce with non-permanent staff.

As temporary staff becomes the norm for more organisations, it’s important not to overlook the fact that the same checks and balances are required as with permanent employees. Missing this can leave the organisation vulnerable to non-compliance issues.

In my role as the Client Services Director, I’ve seen several occurrences of temporary staff recruiters missing out vital compliance checks. While most are minor issues, there are situations where non-compliance can result in serious consequences, such as taking on an illegal worker, which can incur a financial penalty of up to £20,000.

Part of the service we offer to our customers involves auditing agencies on their behalf to ensure compliance. Problems that occur are normally only minor, such as recruitment agencies not having access to key information or evidence about workers, for example, the right references. In more serious cases, an agency may unknowingly supply fake Right to Work documents, or evidence of other inadvertent fraudulent behaviour may show up, which we have an obligation to report to the appropriate authorities.

Failure to impose the same checks with temporary staff as you would permanent staff could jeopardise your organisation and relationships with those that rely on the service you provide. Take the potential impact of hiring a fraudulent doctor or social worker for example, the consequences that could ensue would definitely be too severe a risk.

Admittedly, worker compliance is a complex area to get to grips with, only exacerbated by changing employment legislation. But organisations should start with all the basics, such as checking the validity of key employment documents like Right to Work, and visas for non-UK nationals. Even just gaining proof of identification is all part of the process.

It’s well known that those working with children or the vulnerable require a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (formerly CRB). But sometimes it can be difficult to establish whether certain staff require DBS. With admin staff for example this can be quite a grey area. Sometimes they need to be DBS checked too, especially those that handle confidential cases and patient data.

The DBS Online Update Service recently saw the disclosure certification process move from paper to digital. It’s presented a few issues, mainly caused by some organisations failing to use the new system when their agencies are. If you have instigated the change to digital, you must ensure that your whole supply chain follows.

Driving licenses going digital has also made it more difficult for organisations that hire temporary drivers. While it’s harder to check licencing details, particular rarer ones required for more specific driving roles, the need to ask for evidence of validity still remains.

Locum doctors are expected to have a defined period of references with no gaps. But it’s a challenge to gain every reference when locum doctors have a tendency to move around the world. Tracking down every previous employer can be tricky for the new employer, but for high-value medical roles it’s crucial to have solid and sound referencing in place.

Any sector can face pitfalls when changes to government legislation occur. Consider eligibility to work documentation, and the recent abolishment of tax relief or a disregard for National Insurance contributions on travel and subsistence expenses. The Agency Worker Regulations, introduced in 2011, mean that hirers have additional rules to comply with, such as ensuring temporary staff are given access to pension auto-enrolment.

Most organisations aim to be compliant when using temporary staff. But regulations are constantly changing, making it easy to inadvertently become non-compliant with recruitment laws, and in turn jeopardise your organisation and its image. One way of overcoming the pressure is to outsource temporary labour recruitment to organisations who can manage it for you. This means you can have access to a temporary workforce without your HR or procurement team having to go through such an onerous process.

Comensura and Spend Matters have released the second part of our research study -- which can be downloaded for free:

Contingent Labour Review: Key Procurement Priorities (Part 2) — Tomorrow’s market and how to manage it

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