Working with an Agency

9 years ago

Using a recruitment agency for your temporary and permanent staff can be not only a time saving and cost effective solution, but also a way to add value to your business.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the professional body for the recruitment industry, has put together the below summary of what your agency’s responsibilities are when dealing with you, as well as what your agency will expect from you in return.

What you can expect from your agency …

Terms and Conditions: An agency should provide you with its Terms and Conditions of business from the first meeting, and before they provide you with any services.

Accountability: The agency should be clear about what external authorities regulate its work. If they are REC members, for instance, they are subject to the REC complaints and disciplinary procedure. The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform regulates all agencies according to industry legislation. Certain sectors have separate regulatory bodies.

Fees: The agency has a right to charge certain fees, including a margin on temporary assignments, a placement fee for permanent assignments and temp to perm fees for temporary workers they introduce who go on to be permanent employees with you. They should state their fee structure up front.

CVs: Agencies should never send you a CV without the express permission of the candidate.

Candidates: Any candidate that an agency recommends for your role should be suitable – and the agency should be able to justify what in the candidate’s skills or experience makes them a good fit for the role.

Checks: Agencies are required to conduct certain checks on candidates before placing them. These checks include identity and eligibility to work. Agencies should be very clear during a placement exactly which checks have and have not been done – in some cases, you will be expected to perform certain candidate checks yourself.

Your Contact: An agency should always specify the individual or team that will be managing your account, and should keep you informed of any new contact should your existing contact move on.

Talented Temps: If a temporary worker does not meet your expectations or requirements, you are not obliged to continue their assignment. Your agency should have a procedure for what you should do if you are unsatisfied with an individual worker.

Equal Opportunities: An agency should have a clearly written equal opportunities policy.

Complaint Handling: The agency should have a clear written process for how to manage any complaints if problems should arise. You may wish to ask them about this early in your partnership to avoid later confusion.

What your agency can expect from you …

To get the most from your relationship with your agency, you need to be honest with your situations, clear in your instructions and open minded with listening to your consultant’s advice.

Following the below can help ensure that all of your dealings with recruitment partners are professional and productive.

Unwanted Contact: If you receive unwanted commercial solicitation from agencies, simply advise them politely that you do not wish to receive any further contacts. Remember that until you request that they stop, they are not doing anything wrong in seeking to offer you their services.

Briefing an Assignment: For both temporary and permanent assignments, it is important to give a full and detailed description of the work to be performed. This should include information such as hours and location of work, who the candidate will report to and what type of tasks will be involved. For longer term and permanent contracts, you should also provide a person specification describing the skills and attributes essential to the role.

Understand what you’re agreeing to: The agency is required to send you their terms and conditions before an assignment and unless you specifically object to or query them, your agreement is considered to be implied. Therefore when you receive these documents make sure you read them promptly and thoroughly. If you have any questions, ask them immediately. If you do agree any changes to the terms, make sure these changes are put in writing for future reference.

Worker Management: Be clear about who will have direct control over the worker while they are on assignment and, if appropriate, allow the agency to speak to that person if they have questions. Remember that the agency has a legal responsibility to pass on any relevant information about Health and Safety at your site, so if they request a Health and Safety assessment for this purpose, make an effort to accommodate them.

Payment: Your bills should be paid promptly. Not only is this good business practice and professional courtesy, but you should understand that for temporary assignments in particular, the agency will already have paid the worker long before you receive your invoice. Delays in making payment can hurt your relationship and ultimately the service an agency is able to deliver.

Openness: Try to be as open as possible with your agency about the reasons behind your recruitment decisions. Information such as letting your consultant know that a new position has been created due to planned organisational restructuring, or a decision has been put on hold while you await for a Board decision, helps the consultant to think ahead, provide strategic advice and better identify candidates who might suit your requirements.

CVs from multiple agencies: If you receive the same CV from more than one agency – even if it is unsolicited – and you are interested in interviewing the candidate, you should explicitly reject the terms of the agency you do not with to contract. This will avoid the risk of being charged by both agencies and ending up in a legal dispute.


Source: This information is provided via the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the professional body for the recruitment industry. (

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