Are you concerned that a recruitment agency will tell your employer that you’re looking or have applied for a new job? We explain why you don’t need to be.
At Anne Corder Recruitment (ACR) we are often asked whether we will tell a candidate’s current employer that they are looking or have applied for a new job.
The candidate is understandably concerned by this. Even if they have a great relationship with their employer and are just ‘testing the market’ to see whether they could secure a new job, they don’t want their current boss to think they are not committed to their current role.
In some cases, they believe that this will sour their relationships at work or even lead to them being side-lined or overlooked for promotions or other opportunities. Or worse still, it could lead to them being made redundant or receiving a poor reference.
And sadly, there have been cases where this has happened, when a recruiter has purposefully or unwittingly informed an employer that their member of staff was looking or had applied for a new job.
But this is a highly unethical practice and is actually illegal in the UK.
Section 28 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations 2003 makes clear that recruitment agencies must protect the confidentiality of candidates and can’t disclose information about them without their prior consent.
There are, however, a few exceptions to the rules. Agencies are permitted to disclose information about the candidate for the purposes of finding them a job, or if there are any relevant legal proceedings involving them, or if they are a member of a professional body (the professional body can be informed).
But the regulations implicitly state that an agency can’t tell a candidate’s current employer without their consent.
This protection means that candidates only need to inform their current employer that they have been looking for another job when they receive an offer of employment from a new company.
Recruitment companies that breach the rules are likely to find themselves the subject of an investigation by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS), a government body that ensures that agencies operate fairly and within the law.
They have the power to prosecute and impose unlimited fines on those that don’t and can also apply to have agency directors banned from being company directors again if they breach the rules.
Ethical recruiters like ACR take client and employer confidentiality extremely seriously and know that their business and reputation is built on trust.
Regardless of whether a candidate was successful in securing a new job through them or not, they would never disclose details to their current employer or anyone else.
They also take their General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) obligations seriously and ensure that candidates’ personal information is stored securely and used only with their permission. And they quickly act on any request from candidates to see the information held on them or have it deleted.
High quality agencies will also be members of professional bodies such as the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) or the Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP) that require them to comply with (and be regularly tested on) Codes of Practice or Conduct.
And the very best agencies will also be ISO 9001 certified, an international quality management standard that is focused on continual improvement based on customer needs (ACR was one of the first recruitment agencies in the UK to gain ISO accreditation and has been certified for more than 20 years).
These certifications and accreditations provide further evidence to candidates that their privacy and confidentiality will be protected, and their employer will never know that they are looking or have applied for a new position.
So, returning to the question, ‘Do recruitment agencies tell your employer you’re looking for a job?’, the answer is a resounding ‘No’; no high quality professional agency will ever do that.
But if you’re a candidate that believes a recruitment company has breached your privacy and informed your employer, you can raise a complaint with the EAS.
For more information, go to: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/employment-agency-standards-inspectorate