Government proposals to alter rules regulating the operation of the private recruitment industry have caused anger among IT staffing agencies which believe the changes are unnecessary and potentially "disastrous" to their industry.
So say the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and the Association of Technology Staffing Companies (ATSCO), after a seminar they hosted allowed IT recruiters to voice their concerns to representatives of the Department of Trade and Industry.
According to the REC, the DTI's proposals will restrict IT recruiters to charging a fee to a client if more than four weeks elapses between the end of a contract assignment and the client re-engaging the contractor. However the industry feels this period is too short, and believes clients will be encouraged to use this route to recruit permanent staff, thereby avoiding the payment of a 'temporary to permanent' recruitment fee.
The organisation also says the DTI aims to outlaw contract clauses that prevent contractors working directly for the hirer for a certain period, and says this action will leave recruitment businesses "vulnerable with no recompense for investment made in sourcing highly skilled IT staff".
Ann Swain, chief executive of ATSCO believes the Government has not taken seriously the industry's concerns about the proposals and has called on MP Alan Johnson to supply "compelling evidence" that the changes seek to address a "real" problem.
"Government assurances that it understands and values the IT recruitment industry - and indeed the IT sector as a whole - are sounding increasingly hollow," comments Swain. "Frankly, if they do not make changes they will have another fight on their hands."