Talk of regulation in the recruitment industry is never far away. Until now, that has taken the form of an industry code of conduct managed by the RCSA. It was probably never intended as anything more than what it is – a voluntary, broad set of guidelines to follow– and as such it has little effect in effectively policing the industry.
That may all change soon, with the recent announcement of ESIC – Employment Services Industry Code, which is currently being proposed as a far wider reaching and powerful mechanism. There is currently a public draft of the code being worked on, which is planned to be submitted to parliament this year with a view to it being written into law. The draft is very detailed (61 pages of fun bedtime reading) and outlines everything about how ESIC will work, whom it affects, and everything else. But if the thought of reading 61 pages of legal stuff doesn’t thrill you with excitement, here is a very brief snapshot and summary of the bits that I think most of us at the coalface are interested in:
1. ESIC will be written into law, as part of the Australian Consumer Law and overseen by the ACCC. As such, ESIC means that any breaches of the code can result in punishments that are legally standing.
2. Therefore, unlike the current RCSA code of conduct, ESIC it is not voluntary, and cannot be ignored (well it can but you would be pretty stupid to!). If you work in the business of helping people find work, you won’t have that choice I am afraid.
3. ESIC will be overseen by an independently appointed Advisory Council, with members of that council appointed by the Minister.
4. Through ESIC, complaints can be brought by anyone, including candidates and clients that use your service. These will ultimately be dealt with through an independent tribunal.
5. Any resulting punishments can range from financial through to punitive.
If this sounds pretty full on…it is. It is definitely a massive step from what we currently have in place. Whether you agree, or disagree that the industry needs this sort of regulation, is not the point. Soon you may not have the choice. Personally, I welcome this, and think it is well overdue. If it passes into law I think it will go a long way to lifting the reputation of the recruitment industry and that can only be a good thing.
Although there is no action required right away, you will want this on your radar now, because you might need to change how you do some things. More importantly, ignoring it may leave you wide open. There is an ongoing public consultation process, which will run for a few more months, and this is an opportunity to influence what the final code will look like. If you are a dodgy recruiter then you might start looking to get out of the industry as it is not going to be the free wheeling, lawless MadMax playground you have enjoyed.
If you want anymore information on this whole ESIC thing then let me know.
(And sorry this is all a bit boring! Fun stuff and giggles back next week!)