Yesterday one of our recruitment consultants called me to ask for some advice. She has a client who operates in the finance industry and she needed some clarification on rates, because the client claims ‘another’ agency is providing temps at a $25 pay rate (this is what the temps are being paid) for call centre work. The consultant was asking me for help, could we match this rate and if not, what rates should we be paying?
In this case the client is covered by an industry award, and the award clearly covers the job function of the casual employee. Modern Awards generally cover labour hire employees too, so people2people is obliged by law to pay temps under the appropriate award and award grade. And we can’t pay people less just because other agencies are doing so.
So I had to tell the consultant that we could not match the rates that this other agency was allegedly providing the casual staff. I encouraged her to be clear and transparent with her client on what award applied, what job classification was appropriate and what the minimum casual rate was for that role. It is our job to consult with clients on rates and whilst I am the first person to say we are not a charity and we are here to run a business, we are always very happy to be transparent about the cost of employing casual staff. But what we won’t do is underpay staff just because a client alleges other agencies are prepared to do it.
Now I don’t think that there are agencies deliberately underpaying casual staff. And I must be clear here, the client has not divulged who this other agency is, so I am not here to point the finger at anyone in our industry. But I am not surprised that there may be consultants who are not up to speed with awards and minimum rates – they are complicated beasts. But it’s our job to get these things right – to consult with our clients and make our legal obligations clear.
Here are our obligations to you, as a hiring manager, when you employ casual staff through people2people:
We will always confirm the rate you pay in writing
We will confirm in writing which award and award grade apply to the assignment
We will confirm start and end dates, and if any extensions are required, we will confirm these in writing
Our consultants can provide additional information around overtime rates, penalties and shift allowances if these apply and are more than happy to work with you to maximise output and to minimise cost – but we must always pay our obligations, and we will never ‘match’ other agencies who may not be meeting their legal requirements.
 I am prepared to be sceptical about clients who claim other agencies can provide cheaper temps because they are paying them less. It’s completely possible that the client is claiming this just to try and get cheaper rates from people2people.