Hugh Osmond, owner of Rare Bird Hotels, which he set up in 2012, is campaigning for a recruitment code of practice for agencies operating in the hospitality sector.
Osmond, best known as the founder of Punch Taverns and co-founder of Pizza Express, is taking a stance against what he terms "rogue" recruitment agencies, and is calling on industry stakeholders, such as the Institute of Recruiters and British Hospitality Association, to work together to draw up a code of conduct.
As a relative newcomer to the hotel sector, he is particularly concerned about those recruitment agencies that position themselves as industry experts, but in reality pass on CVs to employers without having met the jobseeker or having checked references.
"We have recently had a very bad experience with a recruitment agency that claimed to be a specialist in this area," said Osmond. "After just five weeks in a key management role, it was clear that the candidate they placed with us was not suitable, yet the recruitment agency was not able to fulfil its own 90-day guarantee to find a replacement and waive the charges."
Osmond said the agency still expected the full recruitment fee to be paid, which was 25% of the £50,000-plus salary, and flew in the face of the agency's own business ethics and terms and conditions. The dispute is in mediation.
"We know we're not alone in questioning why recruitment agencies are not more highly regulated, " he said. "[The code] needs to spell out what recruitment companies must deliver in return for their substantial fees and what their responsibilities are."
Some membership-based institutions already have codes of practice in place. For instance, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), the professional body for the recruitment industry, penalises members that don't comply.