The rise in recruitment fraud is creating a number of challenges for employers. And what’s particularly worrying for HR professionals is that one aspect of such fraud – the online job scam – regularly sees real British businesses used to add legitimacy to illegal behaviour.
Increasingly, fraudsters are copying actual companies to advertise fake jobs in their names, which can cause reputational damage. Oil giant Shell was recently targeted in this way, but it is far from alone, with fraudsters getting adept at cloning websites, creating realistic-looking jobs and in some cases even using the names of the real HR managers in their correspondence with jobseekers.
In many cases, this issue goes even further, with companies reporting that jobseekers actually arrive to start work thinking they have got a legitimate job. This is both a time-consuming and damaging activity for genuine employers to have to deal with.
We often hear from genuine businesses reporting that jobs in their name are live on job boards and social networking sites, often with damaging internal effects when employees themselves discover their own job is being advertised online.
Over the last 24 months, SAFERjobs has witnessed a 300 per cent rise in reports of labour market abuse. In July 2017, the then employment minister said one in 10 jobseekers had been affected by recruitment scams. We receive dozens of reports a day from jobseekers or agency workers about unfair treatment, pay for services or out-and-out scams. We believe these figures are just the tip of the iceberg. Action Fraud found that the average job scam cost an individual £4,000 and the most common amount was £100. These scams often target those who are most unable to afford it.
It isn't just the reputational damage and fallout of fake online jobs that companies need to manage. Employers also have a duty to ensure that their recruitment supply chain is compliant, both ethically and – for firms with a turnover of more than £36m – legally. Ensuring labour market abuse is not happening within what these days is often an extended supply chain can be challenging.
SAFERjobs was appointed to the Ministerial Advisory Panel for the recent Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices. As part of the review, transparency and worker rights featured strongly, especially across supply chains: a point the UK's first labour market strategy will take further once published in May.
SAFERjobs regularly hears from jobseekers and agency or gig workers within the supply chain on issues such as unfair treatment, breaches in recruitment agency legislation (such as non-payment of wages) and exploitation. In some cases, this has included modern slavery, where people have applied for jobs online or via an agency only to find the accommodation costs are greater than the salary.
Knowing your entire supply chain is free from any kind of exploitation, that your supply chain promotes worker rights, and that any issues that do occur are properly reported is a key responsibility of the end hirer. There are discussions currently underway about shifting some of the legislative responsibilities to the end hirer and user of a supply chain. All of which means there has never been a more important time to engage with this important issue by joining the SAFERjobs initiative – and ensure your recruitment processes are free from fraud.
Keith Rosser is chair of SAFERjobs