Norms soon to weed out fraud in staffing industry

Shankar Aggarwal  

The Centre is set to regulate private employment agencies by amending the contract labour law of 1971, Union Labour Secretary Shankar Aggarwal told The Hindu on Friday. He said the agencies won't be allowed to take money from candidates for jobs and hiring agencies who “dupe workers' would soon be weeded out.

Poor regulation

“Unfortunately till date, there has been no regulation for private recruitment agencies. It’s time that this sector is regulated. Recruiting workers on contract will allow flexibility in the labour market,” Mr. Aggarwal said on the sidelines of World Employment Conference jointly organised by the labour ministry and CIETT, an international confederation of private employment agencies. He said the labour ministry would have to amend the contract labour Act of 1970. According to him, some quarters have looked upon contract workers as undesirable due to the industrial unrest in recent years, stemming from poor quality of jobs and the individuals being vulnerable to false hopes.

The labour secretary listed out the principles for the proposed regulation for staffing firms.

“First, they should not charge any money to the candidate. Second, the due diligence of workers such as character verification, police verification, and evaluation of capabilities should be done by the staffing agency. This may be time consuming and expensive but is the need of the hour,” Mr. Aggarwal said.

He said there are several staffing agencies that dupe people in the guise of getting them employed after charging them hefty amounts. “We want only reputed and quality staffing agencies in the arena and all disreputed agencies should be eliminated.We will then be able to create meaningful and purposeful jobs in the country,” he said.

Move welcomed

“It is fortunate that the proposal to regulate staffing agencies will be a part of the labour reforms. A national licensing regime for staffing firms will be critical to keep a check on ‘mom-and-pop’ shops that exist in the form of contractors,” said Rituparna Chakraborty, senior vice-president, Teamlease Services, a staffing company.

Trade unions are also in favour of the regulation. “The number of staffing agencies is growing and is largely unregulated and they mislead the workers.

There is no official website to check the authenticity of a particular agency. We need transparency and trade unions are willing to make the regulation a success,” Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh general secretary Virjesh Upadhyay said.

At present, there are no official estimates on the number of private staffing agencies that are operating in the country.