Respect for Fair Trading & Consumer Protection: Wishlist item or professional development goal?

In our TuesdayTalkAbout Live! masterclass this week, we looked at some experimental drafting of a clause, which might be adopted by recruitment & staffing agencies who were looking to stand out from the pack in terms of demonstrating that, for them at least, respect for Fair Trading & Consumer Protection matters.

Here’s the draft we discussed:

“The Agency warrants that its internal staff, who handle recruitment briefs for the Client or represent Workseekers, have satisfactorily completed relevant Consumer Protection and Fair Trading compliance training in the last two years.”

Experimental drafting 20/03/2023. Not to be used without legal advice.

Would you be willing to have a clause like that in your terms of business? How would you respond to a client, who asked for its inclusion? What would a refusal convey to your client (or to your candidates or contractors)?

What challenges would compliance with such a clause present for recruitment & staffing agencies?

Let’s talk it through…

The draft clause assumes that agency staff, who carry out recruitment tasks, need to know something about fair trading & consumer protection. There’s nothing novel about that. So much is expressly stated in the Qld regulatory scheme for private employment agents, where it first appeared in 2003.[i]

It also assumes that workseekers, as well as clients, have the benefit of fair trading & consumer protections. Again, there’s nothing novel about that. Agencies claim to “represent” their workseekers. They supply their representation services. That can be a consumer supply, even though the workseekers don’t pay.

Consistently with most industry association codes for professional conduct, the clause recognizes that respect for fair trading begins with gaining some knowledge about it, and that it is an agency responsibility to do something about it.

In the experimental draft, I described the training as “compliance” training. I’m not sure that would be my preferred description. I think I’d prefer to use a term such as, “professional development” training. That would convey more to me about the significance of this training (and of its absence) in shaping professional identity and competence.

What do you think?

Let’s talk…

Andrew C. Wood

[i] See, currently, Private Employment Agents (Code of Conduct) Regulation, 2015 (Qld).

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