A social care employer’s guide to hiring agency staff

How would you feel if you hired someone from a recruitment agency and later found out, by chance, that they had held more than 30 positions – a quarter of which had resulted in incomplete disciplinary action? That is the position one provider found itself in. 

A Community Care investigation has discovered that agencies do not – with the exception of domiciliary care and nursing agencies – have to be licensed. Most inspections take place on the back of complaints or by inspectors carrying out spot checks on agencies listed in directories such as yellow pages.

Thousands of employees within the social care workforce are supplied by recruitment agencies. Councils across the country, especially in areas such as London, are highly-dependent on agency workers to fill staff shortages. Care home managers are similarly reliant on agencies to help them fill staff gaps.

So what steps can you take to try and ensure you are using a reputable agency supplying good quality candidates?

Susan Cranie, the director of agency Careplan, recommends you do the following:

– Ask for details of the candidate’s full employee record, including any disciplinary action, even if it is incomplete
– Ask for at least two references
– Make sure all relevant checks, including a Criminal Records Bureau check, have been carried out and you have seen the documentation
– Use an agency that has been accredited by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, the membership body for the recruitment industry which operates a code of practice

The Department for Trade and Industry regulates the recruitment industry, which is governed by law and regulations. If you have a complaint about an agency’s conduct, you can report it to the DTI’s employment agency standards directorate on 0845 955 5105.



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