A North-East father-of-three is calling for changes to the way ‘exploitative‘ employment agencies operate, after a rolling contract was cancelled at short notice, leaving him struggling to support his family.
Luke Buckley, from Darlington, began working for a major recruitment agency last September and was left astonished at the way it operated.
Calling for legal changes, the 36-year-old highlighted issues around a lack of employment rights, the impact of temporary contracts, short notice periods, lack of sick pay and being paid less than permanent employees for the same job.
Mr Buckley said he only took up agency work as “99 per cent” of jobs advertised through Job Centres were offered by agencies and insisted he would rather have any job than none at all.
However, he recently had a rolling contract cancelled with just a week’s notice – a legal practice that has nonetheless left him struggling to pay bills, manage debt and care for his family.
“It’s really wrong that agencies can do this – you can be working one day and told the next that you’re not needed, it’s not right.
“You go to Job Centres and it’s mostly agency work, that’s all that’s out there and you’ve just got to do it.
“People are being pushed into agency jobs and short term contracts where they can let you go at the drop of a hat and that’s a serious problem.”
Darlington MP Jenny Chapman hit out at agencies in response to Mr Buckley’s plight.
She said cases like Mr Buckley’s were becoming common, and added:
“It’s a steadily increasing problem and it’s because some agencies are able to exploit the fact that people are desperate to work in order to support their families.
“They’re unable to break that cycle and I’ve even heard instances of agencies paying the minimum wage then charging people admin costs.
“It’s outrageous and exploitative.”
In response to claims that job agencies monopolise vacancies advertised at Job Centres, a spokeswoman from the Department of Work and Pensions said their system, Universal Jobmatch, revolutionised the way jobseekers look for work.
> If setting people up for sanctions is revolutionary, it certainly has. Otherwise it’s a rubbish site and I don’t use it.
A cleaning job advertised on the government’s Universal Jobmatch website is asking potential candidates to carry out ‘volunteer shifts prior to engagement’ in breach of minimum wage laws. (H/T @AtosMiraclesfb)
The vacancy is at Thornton Manor, a stately home in Wirral which has been converted into a luxury wedding and conference centre. According to one intrepid jobseeker who inquired about this job, potential recruits are expected to carry out a voluntary shift in case they don’t like it. It was then admitted that actually this unpaid work is for the benefit of both parties although in some cases potential employees may not have to carry out a full shift.
This is the latest example of grasping employers using ‘try before you buy’ schemes to minimise the cost of recruitment. Taking on staff involves a level of risk, and greedy companies are now trying to push the cost of…
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This article was written by Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent, for The Guardian on Monday 24th November 2014
Ed Miliband will pledge to crack down on “cowboy employment agencies” on Monday as he outlines a raft of measures that will ban exclusive recruitment of overseas workers and close loopholes that allow the wages of permanent staff to be undercut.
As new figures show that the number of people on temporary agency contracts is at the highest level since 1997, the Labour leader will pledge to end working practices which allow agencies to operate “in the shadows of our economy and on the margins of the law”.
Miliband will outline a three-point plan to:
• Close a legal loophole known as the Swedish derogation which allows employment agencies to pay agency workers a lower rate than permanent employees if they are paid between assignments. Labour says there is evidence that agency workers are sometimes paid the lower rate even when they work regular shifts.
• Ban employment agencies from recruiting exclusively from abroad.
• Force “rogue agencies” that exploit workers illegally to sign up to a licensing system. Authorities would have the power to revoke a licence if they are found guilty of misconduct.
Miliband will say: “We will not tolerate a zero-zero economy where hundreds of thousands are kept on zero hour contracts while a tiny privileged minority pay zero tax. And nor will we tolerate a world of work that is becoming more brutal because of the way some cowboy employment agencies have been allowed to operate. They are undermining dignity at work, driving down standards and creating greater insecurity for families.
“There has been a huge increase in temporary agency work in recent years. Many employment agencies play their part in supporting businesses, as well as workers, who want flexibility. But there is now overwhelming evidence that some are operating in the shadows of our economy and on the margins of law, damaging the basic fabric of British life that hard work should be properly paid.
“Even the industry itself is expressing concern that the number of rogue agencies have increased in recent years. They are breaking the law on the minimum wage, failing to pay their taxes, and exploiting workers to undercut the wages of permanent staff. These rogue agencies need to know their time is up and we will act.”
Miliband will outline his reforms after the latest official quarterly figures (July to September) showed a 36% increase in the number of temporary agency workers compared with 2009. There is a 20% increase compared with last year.
> It’d be nice if he’d also pledge to outlaw the necessity to sign up for Universal Jobmatch as a condition of receiving benefits (or the belief, fostered by Jobcentre “advisers” that you have to – I still haven’t).
Source – Welfare Weekly, 24 Nov 2014
Universal Jobmatch is the scandal-hit website which unemployed people are forced to use to look for work. Monster Jobs were paid almost £20 million to create the site which recently won a ‘worst website’ award at an industry event. According to The Guardian, Universal Jobmatch is set to be scrapped when Monster’s contract expires in 2016.
This is not the case pleads Monster boss Sal Iannuzzi, in the joint statement co-written with Head of Jobcentre Plus Neil Couling. The website is ‘here to stay’ he claims. What’s more it is a ‘powerful tool’ and a ‘secure, and effective recruitment site’, whilst criticisms are based on ‘misrepresentation’.
The letter highlights two main areas of concern, the huge number of bogus jobs…
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121 vacancies for computer programmers in Reading are currently posted on the website and all trace back to the same recruitment company, computerfutures.com. On contacting this company it was established that in reality they currently have “four or five” jobs available in the Reading area.
The reason for this duplication is that the same jobs are being posted by different recruitment agencies, all of who appear to be in breach of the rules which state vacancies must not be duplicated. Appalling some of these fake job ads appear to have come from Monster, the company paid millions to run Universal Jobmatch who apparently can’t even keep to their own rules.
This fresh embarrassment comes just two weeks after thousands of job advertisements were taken…
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Ha… and I’ve still not signed up for it. 🙂 This’ll be another good arguement – why sign up for something that’ll be phased out anyway ?
Universal Jobmatch was launched at huge cost towards the end of 2012 as a means of spying on unemployed people to ensure they are carrying out sufficient jobseeking activity. Changes to conditions for receiving benefits mean that in some cases unemployed claimants are expected to spend 35 hours a week looking for work. When Universal Credit is finally launched (stop laughing), millions more people, – including part time or self-employed workers, lone parents and disabled people – will also be expected to endlessly look for ‘more or better paid work’.
With Jobcentres already desperately over-stretched due to other reforms to social security, Universal Jobmatch was intended to be a ‘digital by default’ way of policing this new regime on the cheap. Iain Duncan Smith had…
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“Anyone considered a worker under the law should be paid at least the minimum wage, whether they are an intern, or someone on work experience.”
Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson MP
The Government job-seeking website Universal Jobmatch is still littered with illegal unpaid work despite David Cameron’s claims that companies who fail to pay the minimum wage will be ‘named and shamed’.
Many employers are using the site to offer unpaid work experience roles or internships such as this advertisement calling for”extremely hardworking” graduates to work in exchange for lunch and travel expenses.
Unless unpaid work experience positions form part of a formal Jobcentre scheme they are illegal under minimum wage laws. The law is very clear and guidance on who is entitled to receive the minimum wage can be…
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Fraud squad detectives are probing claims jobseekers were conned out of cash in an elaborate ‘Hustle-style’ scam from luxury city centre offices.
Applicants were interviewed by ‘Options 4 Families’ at a rented office in the Manchester One building on Portland Street, but heard nothing from the company after paying £65 for background checks upon offers of employment.
The £18.5k-a-year ‘trainee child counsellor’ jobs were even advertised on the government’s own Universal Jobmatch website – but the Department of Work and Pensions has since removed the adverts and has sent a warning to those who applied.
> Maybe they want to take a look at all those non-jobs that clutter up UJ – leaflet distributors, etc. But I suppose if they did, they’d have virtually nothing left – few respectable advertisers use UJ.
Other candidates are understood to have left their current jobs after being offered positions.
Burnley-based businessman John Sothern, 44, interviewed candidates at the start of January and is understood to have offered at least 12 people roles based in Manchester city centre following two days of interviews.
He is now at the centre of a police investigation – but denies any wrongdoing.
Greater Manchester Police were called to Manchester One by an interviewee on January 8 but Mr Sothern had fled the premises by the time officers arrived.
The M.E.N has spoken to jobseekers who were told they would begin their roles – which would increase to £34k-a-year after a training period – at the start of February but have still not heard from the company six weeks after transferring money.
Lancashire Police confirmed allegations regarding the Manchester-based jobs were passed to them by national agency Action Fraud on January 28.
It is understood a fraud probe into Mr Sothern’s activities is currently examining around 70 alleged offences across the north west.
A Lancashire Police spokeswoman said: “We can confirm officers have received a report in relation to an allegation of fraud. An investigation has been launched and enquiries are on-going in relation to this matter at this time.”
A Department of Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: “The vast majority of those employers offer genuine roles for jobseekers to apply for – however we won’t hesitate to ban anyone who tries to break the rules and post fraudulent jobs. When possible, it can – and has – led to criminal prosecutions.”
Options 4 Families was dissolved as a limited company in 2010.
Matthew Bourton, 24, thought he’d finally ended his two-year search to find work when he was offered a ‘trainee child therapist’ job by Options 4 Families.
He applied through Universal Jobmatch and was interviewed just hours before police were called to the office on January 8.
Matthew, who has been out of work since leaving university, was offered the position the following day. He was then asked to provide a ‘refundable’ payment of £65.60 for a Disclosure and Barring Service background check to be carried out.
Six weeks later, he’s had no contact from the company.
Matthew, of Wigan Road, Leigh, said: “The job itself seemed too good to be true, but I’m so desperate to find work I was ready to believe everything I was being told. John Sothern was very friendly and charming. I gave my details for the bank transfer and that’s the last I’ve heard from them.
“I tried to get in touch with them but the number was a dead line. There was no mention of them on the internet apart from their own website and I came to the realisation that I’d been had. I feel taken advantage of and totally devastated.”
Businessman John Sothern insists job offers with Options 4 Families were genuine and he has done ‘nothing wrong’.
Mr Sothern is aware of a police investigation into the interview process at Manchester One but insists applicants will be given the jobs they were offered with Options 4 Families. He intends to contact candidates ‘within seven to 10 days’.
He said: “We’ve applied for funding with different organisations, including the Big Lottery Fund, and with private investors. As soon as we get that funding through, we’ll be in a position for people to start those jobs. We’ve had to put everything on hold but those people offered jobs will be getting e-mails – the jobs are still open. Background checks are standard industry practice and those people will get their money back.”
Source – Manchester Evening News, 03 Mar 2014
A sign of the times in the North East – and confirming the views of Louise Baldock, Labour MP for Stockton South, posted yesterday https://unemployedtynewear.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/when-is-a-job-not-a-job/
I was in my local Jobcentre this morning, and while waiting for my appointment whiled away a few minutes searching the jobpoint.
For anyone who doesn’t know, the good old days of vacancy boards on the walls are gone, replaced by these horrible job points – computer terminals that never quite work properly, and wont let you check for jobs in nearby towns (presumably you have to go to those towns in person and check in their jobcentre – another victory for DWP technology).
Anyway, I search ‘All Jobs’ and the screen gives me the top 100 local jobs, 8 to a page.
Almost all of the first 2 pages (14 out of 16 ‘jobs’) were filled by that most ubiquitous of non-jobs, the self-employed leaflet distributor.
Worse, half of them were actually the same advert, posted under different headings – so for example click on ‘Retail Operative’ and you get leaflet distributor again – same ad, same company.
I didn’t count them, but there was a fair smattering of other leaflet distributors amongst the remaining 84 of the top 100 jobs, along with other non-job favorites like catalogue distributors (apparently a seperate discipline) and commission-based jobs (mainly selling door-to-door).
If things continue at this rate, before long I’ll be able to go into the jobcentre and every job will be a non-job. The whole city will be busily non-employed delivering leaflets to each other.
Feel you’ve been fucked over by the DWP ? Now they’re offering you out for money too. Gives a whole new meaning to the term Poverty Pimp…
An advert for a job as a prostitute has appeared on a Government website.
The bungling Department of Work and Pensions allowed the “no experience necessary” offer for a single girl willing to work as a hooker to be posted on Direct Gov.
The ad, offering £10 an hour, put up by an agency called Horny Escorts on a board popular with jobseekers, offers work on a “flexitime” basis with the only qualification needed listed as “must like sex”.
The description said: “Female worker wanted to go out with guys maybe for evening or have full on sex.”
In grammatically incorrect English it continues: “This would be better if you was single and be able to work at your own pace.
“Looks and race unimportant. You will need a mobile phone. No experience necessary.”
The advert was posted on the Universal Jobmatch area of the Direct Gov site last Monday by the boss of the agency.
It only has one man and woman working for it but boasts of having “the most gorgeous and sophisticated women and men in the UK.”
The manager said: “I put the advert up there because it’s a job site and it’s a job. I was a bit shocked they allowed it.
“I also do deliveries and I had posted an ad for a same-day delivery service and then I just put the escorting one underneath it.
“The advert says ‘must like sex’ because if a man pays for it obviously he’s going to want that. I thought the Department of Works and Pensions would admin it.
“I didn’t know it would go straight online.”
He said he decided to advertise after business slowed down, saying: “It’s not been that good.”
A DWP spokesman admitted the blunder but refused to say if ads were read before they went live.
He said: “The post was inappropriate and was taken down next day.
“When advertising jobs, employers have to agree to terms and conditions. Where an inappropriate job is identified it is quickly removed.”
Source – Daily mirror, 29 Dec 2013