As a jobseeker, you may have wondered whether you are charged by a recruitment company for them finding you a job or whether this is a myth. Here’s the truth…
We know what it’s like. You’re looking for a new job and see a perfect position advertised on a job site, so you submit your details or a CV. You may have thought your application goes directly to the employer, only to find out it’s gone to a recruitment agency instead who are advertising the vacancy on behalf of the company.
At this stage, you may be concerned. Will the agency ever contact you? Will the information you’ve submitted be what they’re looking for? And most importantly, are they going to charge you to submit your application to the employer and land you the job?
The answer is simple. NO!
In the UK, it is illegal for a recruitment company to charge a candidate for submitting an application or securing them a job (which they could never guarantee anyway), no matter which company it is with, whatever the role, or wherever it is located.
Recruitment agencies are paid by their clients – the businesses that instruct them to find the staff they need. So even if it wasn’t illegal, it would be morally wrong of them to get paid twice by charging candidates too.
However, recruitment firms are permitted to charge for optional additional services that candidates may want to use. These include CV writing, training, and transport, but they can’t make any of these a condition for finding a candidate a job.
What’s more, written details of the additional services – including costs and conditions – must be supplied to the jobseeker before they are charged a fee. And details of their right to cancel these services and the notice period required must also be included.
The only exception to this rule is entertainment and modelling agencies who are permitted to charge those looking for work a fee. Typically, these agencies will use a commission structure, taking a percentage of the entertainer’s or model’s earnings (which must be detailed in writing). Their fees can also include the costs associated with publishing an individual’s details online or in a printed publication to promote them.
Interestingly the list of occupations that an entertainment agency can represent includes composers, writers, photographers, stunt arrangers, theatre designers, choreographers, and even professional sports people, as well as actors, singers, musicians, and dancers.
But for most people, if a recruitment agency ever tells them that there is a fee for finding them work, that should be a clear sign that they are not dealing with a reputable company.
They should walk away knowing that the Employment Agencies Act 1973 and the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 make clear that recruitment agencies (in the UK) can’t charge a candidate for finding them a job.
What’s more, recruitment agencies shouldn’t ever make a candidate feel that they must pay for any additional services they offer in order to progress an application or find work.
The best, most ethical agencies will provide unbiased free advice to candidates – potentially including recommendations for improving their CVs – but will never make a candidate feel under pressure to pay for additional services they may provide.
If you’re an employer looking to use a recruitment company, it is a good idea to speak to a number of firms before making your decision, and look beyond just the fees they charge. Remember that a recruitment agency is representing your business, so it’s important they share your values and ethos too – including how they treat candidates, regardless of whether they secure a job with you or not.