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14 July 2014 | Gurjit Degun
The chief executive of the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has called on the CBI to introduce a code of conduct on fair payment terms.
Ann Swain was speaking during a panel discussion at an APSCo members meeting on how to ensure fair and transparent payment terms throughout the recruitment supply chain.
She said: “I think [CBI] are in a uniquely strong position to have a code of conduct for your members, big or small, about what is appropriate. What seems to have happened here, there’s been a huge loss of understanding what appropriate behaviour is and I actually think the CBI, in the strong position that they’re in, could set a precedent for guidelines about what’s appropriate for their members.”
Tom Thackray, CBI’s senior policy adviser, said that it would be possible “in principle”. He said: “I think that the difficulty is that different sectors have different levels of appropriateness so we would rely very much on our members to guide us on what is appropriate in their sector.”
On the topic of what can be done to ensure fair and transparent payment terms throughout the recruitment supply chain more widely, Philip King, chief executive at the Institute for Credit Management, said that there are a number of issues. “We need more transparency, we need legislation and it needs to be used effectively, we need good practice, and we need some good credit management skills because sometimes it’s the supplier that gets it wrong and doesn’t use the right invoice number or send it to the right place.”
Richard Herring, managing director and senior vice president for Europe and Asia at Volt, called for suppliers not to work with companies with unfair payment terms. “I think fundamentally what we are talking about is commercial relationships,” he said. “The reality is if the end client absolutely refuses to take an assignment then what do you do about it – don’t work with them. It’s the commercial reality. Why are we working with any parties that have a really poor credit rating or you cannot get any assurances from them?”
Swain added: “I think we talk about business relationships but I do think there are some relationships that frankly are abusive, and I think that the recruitment market needs a level of protection that goes beyond dialogue of any form and that there does need to be strong incentives and in some cases some pretty big sticks that British business is the pride of the world and not frankly an embarrassment from a global perspective about the way that they deal with suppliers across the board.”