The British Government has recently published its response to a consultation on whether recruitment agencies should be banned from advertising vacancies in other European Economic Area (EEA) countries without also advertising them in Great Britain and in English.

The present legislation regulating British-based recruitment agencies is silent on where, and in what language, British-based vacancies are advertised, meaning that they may advertise roles in other EEA countries without giving workers in Britain the opportunity to apply. However, a poll of business representatives, recruiters, trade unions, Government bodies and individuals found that a proposed new regulation requiring agencies to ensure that all British roles advertised in the EEA are also advertised in Britain, in English, would help achieve the Government’s aim of creating a level playing field for workers in Britain.

However, some respondents believed that the proposed regulation was unnecessary in view of the existing protection against discrimination for job applicants under the Equality Act 2010. Furthermore, respondents felt that the proposed regulations could be easily be side-stepped as hirers would not be prevented from recruiting directly from overseas without advertising in Great Britain, engaging an overseas based recruitment agency to do so or carrying out only minimal advertising in Great Britain (e.g., advertising a vacancy on a local shop noticeboard for two hours).

It is envisaged that the final Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2014 will come into force before the end of December 2014. A breach of the restriction on overseas-only advertising may constitute a criminal offence, although certain defences will apply.

Read the Government’s full response to the consultation.