The Enforcement and Sanctions office at the Department of Business and Trade has agreed to investigate whether ANRO – the Anaesthetic National Recruitment Office – is complying with regulation 27 of the 2003 Employment Agencies (EA) Act. They have agreed that … based on the information available, it would appear that ANRO’s services might be caught by s13(2) the Employment Agencies Act 1973. I cannot be more definitive at this stage.Where any service is caught by the provisions of the Employment Agencies Act 1973 as an employment agency they would be obliged to comply with the relevant provisions of the Act and Regulations that apply to that activity.
Complying with all the requirements of the EA Act could pose an insuperable problem for ANRO.
Employment agencies are defined by law as businesses that provide services for the purpose of finding workers employment with employers. The EA Inspectorate emphasises that this definition applies to a wide range of industries, and EA legislation is intended to protect vulnerable work-seekers from exploitation. It includes such protections as:-
- Employment Agencies may not make their work-finding services conditional upon the work-seeker using other services that they provide.
- An Employment Agency cannot disclose information relating to a work-seeker except in very narrow circumstances
- Employment Agencies must give workers detailed information on pay, deductions, location, hours of work, health & safety risks and travel expenses within 3 days of making an offer.
- Employment Agencies are responsible for pre-employment checks and verifying qualifications, rather than the employer, and provide work-seekers with information about health/safety risks and PPE.
- It is unlawful for an Employment Agency to submit a work-seeker to any detriment on the ground that the work-seeker has terminated or given notice to terminate any contract with the Agency.
There is more information here
ANRO and its predecessors have not wanted to be covered by the terms of this legislation since they do not comply with it. In 2009 the government attempted to create a legal exemption for postgraduate deaneries, arguing (with no particular justification) that junior doctors needed to be treated differently to other workers. They were challenged successfully by the short-lived but influential pressure group RemedyUK. HEE, of course, still doesn’t know itself whether it is or is not an EA, and proudly advertises that fact. But given that their ‘we don’t even know what we are’ plea has been there for at least 10 years it feels almost like they are wilfully avoiding finding out.
Of course if ANRO is not an Employment Agency, and not an employer, then how are they controlling who is and is not appointed to jobs in NHS Trusts? Are they operating a cartel? That also seems a bit dodgy.
The Department of Business and Trade confirmed that when they follow up a complaint and investigate they aim to conclude the investigation within six weeks from the date the complaint was received … many complaints are completed within this timeframe.
Watch this space.