What is the Role of Employment Agencies?

Across Canada, more than 400,000 workers have a job through 1,300 employment agencies which are members of the Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services (ACSESS). What is the role of employment agencies, concentrating, in Quebec and Ontario, about one-third of job offers?

What is an employment agency?

An employment agency means a public body or private enterprise whose function is to serve as intermediary between people seeking a job and potential employers.

The role of employment agencies consist in providing services of search, selection, payroll, advice to candidates on CVs and interviews and even additional training for workers. Sometimes the agency’s role consists of finding longer assignments or permanent positions that match candidates’ expectations and profiles.

Member agencies of the ACSESS represent 85% of the business volume of the employment sector in Canada. Signatories of a code of ethics, they are committed to meeting certain quality standards. Since March 2016, an agency must have a certificate issued by Revenu Quebec when the amount of contracts with a given client exceeds $25,000.

Agency client companies often face difficulties finding qualified workers themselves in their industry. They can then outsource part of their recruitment process and generally use agencies to meet their urgent and temporary labour needs.

Sizes and sectors

There are small employment agencies, single and local offices (such as the Montreal agency Entremetteuse), and also large multinational agencies (Manpower, Randstad). Some are generalists – they cover several business sectors (arts, health, hospitality and restaurant, administration, information technologies, industry, etc.) – while others are specialists in a particular field.

How it functions for the job seeker

After targeting one or more agencies involved in his field, a job seeker sends it his resume. If he is selected, the candidate will usually have a telephone interview, then a personal one, to confirm that he matches the selection criteria. He then details his skills, work experience and expectations. The agency takes the responsibility to check his references, then presents the candidate to a client company.

Generally, the agency is considered to be the worker’s employer. It is paid by the companies that use its services and it is responsible to pay the workers placed. It cannot require a membership fee from candidates but often takes a percentage of their salary. Companies, agencies and employees have the same rights and obligations as two parties in a traditional employment relationship, in terms of compliance with the Act respecting labour standards.

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