Why deal with placement agencies

Why do job hunters turn to placement agencies? Here are the advantages and disadvantages.
In 2012, according to a study from the Commission des normes du travail (CNT), 46% of temporary placement agency workers had no choice but to use them to apply to jobs that interested them.

What you need to know before passing through an employment agency.

  • In Quebec, employment agencies are not regulated. According to Mircea Vultur, professor at the Institut nationale de la recherche scientifique (INRS), anyone can start an agency even though the majority of developed countries regulate them.
  • The Loi sur les normes du travail only applies to mandates and contracts obtained by the agencies. So, it is important to keep this in mind before doing business with one of them.
  • Getting hired by a business can be difficult when they have achieved their mandate: 32% of placement agencies prohibit their workers from being directly hired by business clients, under pain of penalties.
  • According to Vultur, the bigger agencies are better organized than the smaller ones. Before selecting an agency, it might be a good idea to do some research on the agencies that interest you before choosing one.
  • Every agency must have their workers sign a contract: read it well, pay particular attention to the availabilities (it could be 24/7), to exclusivity clauses, travel fees, and penalties for uncompleted mandates. At least, if negotiation is practically impossible, you can stay up to date on the situation.
  • More job seekers are surprised that job offers they applied to on job sites, like Emploi-Québec, are in fact being offered by placement agencies.

The Advantages

  • Concerning hours, agencies have greater flexibility than traditional employers. This is advantageous for students or people looking for extra income.
  • For those entering the job market, it is possible to carry out mandates in order to acquire professional experience at the beginning.
  • Although it is temporary, it is more accessible than a job and has the possibility to give you work right away.
  • As much as we would like it, the labour market is not always open to immigrants. But it is possible to gain experience in Quebec’s job market by landing mandates through an agency.
  • Agencies are also used by some to find prospects in their sector or in certain companies before officially applying to them.
  • According to the CNT, there are little to no fees and only 7% of temporary employees have paid fees for an agency’s service.

The Disadvantages…

  • “We don’t know whether the employer is the agency or the business.” Explains Vultur. Workers never know who to turn to when it is time to pay for training, travel, or to address health and work-safety issues. Often, according to the INRS researcher, agencies and companies will try to shift the blame.
  • The conditions are not always the same for the same work. According to the CNT, 42% of agency workers consider their work conditions worse than directly hired employees, 10% think it is better, and 43% think there is no difference.
  • Under these conditions, the salary is the biggest difference. Vulture posits that, for thesame work, there is a 40% salary difference between company employees and temporary workers.
  • Travel fees are often not taken into account: 68% of agency workers state that—in this situation—they are not compensated, while 40% of them have to travel from one workplace to another in the same day.
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