11 May 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor
Procurement, HR and employment agencies must work together to banish the "cowboys" that operate in the recruitment industry.
That was the view of Gareth Osborne, managing director of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), at the first joint event between the organisation and CIPS.
Speaking at the Procuring HR and recruitment service conference in London last month, Osborne said legislation was not enough to rid the industry of the "bad guys" - who exploit workers and fail to comply with law over pay and conditions.
"The recruitment industry is striving for professionalism but at the lower echelons there are cowboys operating. Together we must rid the industry of them.
"Legislation comes continually but in isolation it isn't the answer. The bad guys are very good at hiding and if they've avoided the last 11 pieces of legislation the 12th or 13th won't do anything," he told delegates.
Andrew Lewcock, team leader for BT procurement and supply chain, who also spoke at the event, described how rogue agencies cause difficulties.
"We get approached by organisations that try to get a foot in the door and once in, some of their ethics and professionalism are questionable."
Often such operators approach people in other parts of the business and procurement finds itself having to justify using another firm that is possibly more expensive, he said.
Marcia Roberts, deputy chief executive of the REC, warned delegates: "Some margins are so low the supplier couldn't possibly comply with everything."
There was also a debate about the use of reverse auctions for buying recruitment services.
Lewcock said: "Too often we resort to another price debate but suppliers are all too keen to come into a price war. We want a longer-term relationship to cover compliance, bring stability and add value."