14 November 2014
A government response to the consultation on prohibiting employment agencies and employment businesses from advertising jobs exclusively in other EEA countries has been published. The response confirms that the government will proceed with introducing the new regulations.
Legislation does not currently regulate where, or in which language, job vacancies are advertised. The response declares that “this means that some employment agencies and employment businesses may be advertising vacancies in other EEA countries without giving workers in Britain the opportunity to apply”. It says that the government “wants to create a level playing field for workers by ensuring that all vacancies are advertised in Great Britain and in English.”
After seeking consultation on the proposal to amend the Conduct Regulations to ban overseas-only advertising, the government intends to proceed with introducing the new regulations, with implementation planned for December 2014. From this date, all employment agencies and employment businesses will be required to advertise Britain-based jobs in Britain, and in English.
A concern highlighted in the consultation responses is that the new regulations do not prohibit hirers from using agencies based overseas to place vacancies on their behalf. There was also question over the necessity of the regulation, as only 6.5% of the respondents had evidence of any jobs being advertised solely overseas. Some respondents claimed that the Equality Act 2010 already legislates against overseas-only advertising, as it is classed as discrimination in the recruiting process.
Overseas advertising has hit the headlines this week as Greencore, a sandwich making corporation that supplies Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda, is advertising in Hungary. The news has been predictably co-opted by the right-wing press, demonising both migrant workers and the British working class; the Daily Mail headline “Is there no one left in Britain who can make a sandwich?” has gone viral.
The underlying problem is one of labour market regulation. How much is Greencore paying its staff, who work long, unsociable hours? Why is it receiving a government subsidy to open a factory in an area with relatively low-unemployment in Northampton (Greencore’s justification for advertising overseas)? Labour standards and employment rights must be considered integral to any discussion on labour migration.
Labour Migration in Hard Times: Reforming Labour Market Regulation , edited by Bernard Ryan, calls for a rights-oriented model of immigration policy, aimed at promoting the legitimate interests of all workers; to employment opportunities, to fair wages, and to decent treatment in the workplace.