Archive for April, 2010

International Talent Acquisition, Europe, and Recruitment Law


It’s said that the EU makes 70% of new English law nowadays, so employment law around Europe must be the same, right? Data protection & privacy legislation, as examples, have been brought in from Brussels, so what we do here in the UK must be okay in Germany, France and elsewhere in Europe, surely? I’ve just completed some work for a global Financial Services market leader who has upgraded its talent acquisition system to MrTedTalentLink, and the findings are fascinating. They can have a massive impact on your bottom line. And your career.

Their remit to me was to look at variations around their European offices in discrimination, graduates, interviewing, background checking, rejection of candidates, data protection, and unionisation, to help improve compliance in their talent acquisition process. The issue of temp/contractor/interim talent acquisition was not part of the current remit, and so was ignored, but will be in the future, so if you want information on this, please let me know.

The information following is a summary only, and if you are concerned for your own company, discuss it at DRTT, consult a solicitor, and do NOT depend on what I have said here! MrTed Limited is certainly not liable for any comments in this paper. This piece, therefore, is just to stimulate discussion ….


Writing job advertisements was the first thing we learnt when we all started out in recruitment, and I’m sure a lot of us have made our reputations on our ability to write compelling copy that has attracted top talent. But did you know that in Belgium, an employer can be held liable for a recruitment agency’s discriminatory copy? This is the case in Germany too.  In Belgium and France, because the language forces every noun to be either masculine or feminine, it also means that copy needs to be altered to either include both (eg “employé(e)”): extra creativity is needed in writing job advertisements in French! And they must be written using French words to protect the linguistic heritage. I got the feeling that in their Spanish office, my client was less worried about discriminatory language: one of them said that they encourage their women to wear a dress or skirt when visiting clients “because that’s what our clients would want”.


This is the area where there is little difference in law, practice or nuance. All countries are officially concerned not to be discriminatory against older people, women or ethnic minorities (as they have less access to Universities), but in France there is no case law to back this up. Only in the UK is there a case, and that was concerning giving equal consideration to graduates from outside the EEA and the use of the Right To Work Killer Question

Many employers seem to ring-fence graduate talent acquisition (separate section on the career site, specialist magazines, visits to some universities but not others, graduate open days, and so on) and nobody has been prosecuted for discrimination. What, after all, has a graduate in International Politics got to offer that any other human being has not?! I can’t help but feel that that the whole idea of graduate recruitment – as against apprentice recruitment which is made available for all – could be akin to an old wartime bomb that has lain dormant for years and could indeed lie dormant forever, but could also blow up any time, especially now in the crush for jobs ….


In France, you must invite alumni of less than a year and existing staff to apply before you can go external. The Dutch have a recruitment code that needs to be ticked off in interview. Spain has no legal criteria for the selection of applicants for interview!

Background Checking

You cannot check a Belgian’s background without their consent; if a Belgian candidate doesn’t give details of a former employer, you cannot check it, which means that if you find out about a previous job from information not supplied by the candidate, you cannot use it in your selection criteria. You may only check criminal and medical histories if those aspects are relevant to the job. French employers give employees that are leaving a work certificate specifying the role and the dates, and prospective employers can ask to see these certificates. If detail on the CV is later found to be inaccurate, you cannot fire the employee unless the detail is pertinent to doing the job. Bankers must provide copies of their police records. Transport people must submit to drug tests. Prospective German employers can check with previous employers, and can make a positive medical certificate a precondition of employment. Only government departments can see a full criminal record, the private sector only a shortened version. All background data on an employee must be deleted once they leave, and on unsuccessful candidates immediately once the recruitment process is over, and may only be kept in case the employer needs to protect themselves against a discrimination claim. It is forbidden to check criminal records in Italy, unless a clean criminal record is warranted for the job. Dutch employers can require a candidate to show a Good Conduct certificate from the Ministry of Justice. Lying about past criminal convictions is not a justification for firing someone. No Spanish employer can make checks without the consent of the candidate, except for the banks. British companies can ask for medical records where consent is given, and criminal records as pre-conditions to offering a job even if they are irrelevant to the job. A candidate does not need to disclose spent convictions. CV details can be verified without consent of the candidate. Lying on a CV is grounds for summary dismissal, even if irrelevant to the job.

Rejection of Candidates

The issue of discrimination looms large in all EU countries, but each has a different twist on how much liability the employer has, and different timeframes after which a claim for rejection on discriminatory grounds can be lodged. Germany is the most interesting, in that rejected candidates can have their documents returned and get expenses for attending interviews. In Italy, the courts can force an employer to take someone on, though this has only actually happened in the public sector; companies are compelled to pay compensation.

Data Protection

You cannot collect or store information on Belgian candidates without their consent. This information must be deleted once the candidate is no longer a target for recruitment. French employers can store information for two years. Dutch employers should return or delete data within four weeks of the end of the recruitment process. Data on German candidates should be deleted as soon as they are not being considered for employment, though it should be noted that this sits in contradiction with the employer’s right to protect itself against claims of discrimination by which they would need to store data for so long as they could be claimed against. In the UK, data can be stored for up to 12 months, but only a few employers actually abide by this rule, and I don’t know of any employer that has been successfully prosecuted for holding data for longer. We all know of recruitment agencies who store data forever!


Workers Councils in Germany must be shown the papers of all applicants who can be hired only with the consent of the Council. The end-to-end recruitment process must be approved by Dutch unions, which includes any changes.


new DRTT dates for your Calendar


Are you a discrete, senior and inhouse thought leader in Direct Resourcing? Do you want to network with your peers?

*Only Senior HR & Resourcing Heads of large enterprises public & private participate in the DRTT.

*The hosts are the Senior HR & Resourcing Heads of large enterprises like Barclays, Tesco, PWC and Axa.

*DRTT is about the strategy of resourcing, as you have teams who do while you direct.

*What price would you put on being able to meet your peers from the companies above and understand how they are tackling the big issues?  The DRTT membership is completely free of charge, so look at the Calendar of Think Tanks below and either call me on 07979 751 562 or email me at to let me know which you want to participate in … 

April 9th9am – 12.30pm Barclaycard
1 Churchill Place
E14 5HP
Executive Search
Hosted by Adrian Shooter, Executive Resourcer, Barclaycard
Following a number of extremely successful and over subscribed previous Direct Resourcing Think Tank, this topic on developing an internal executive search capability is back due to high demand.   It offers members the opportunity to share experiences from initially championing a business to set up an internal function through to managing senior candidate attraction and on-boarding.
28th April9am – 12.30pm FSA
 25 The North Colonnade,Canary Wharf,


E14 5HS

Promoting Diversity
Hosted by Hayley Chelmick, Resourcing Manager, FSA
This Direct Resourcing Think Tank will explore the methods recruiters can use to promote opportunities to candidates from diverse backgrounds, either direct or through third party suppliers.  As well as discussing channels to market it will look at how people monitor and define success.
12th May9am – 12.30pm Tesco
 New Tesco House
Delamare Road
Structuring, Incentivising and Supporting an Internal Resourcing Function
 Hosted by Emma Smith, International Resourcing Manager (Europe), Tesco
Deciding how to structure, incentivise and support their internal resourcing function  is one of the key challenges many of our members face.  With so many variables and often an unclear picture of demand from their business this Direct Resourcing Think Tank offers members the opportunity to discuss their thoughts and experiences.   
19th May9am – 12.30pm Royal Bank of Scotland, Bishopsgate Structuring, Hosted by Susan Bor, Director, Group Resourcing, RBS
2nd June9am – 12.30pm Swiss Re
 30 St Mary Axe
Referral Schemes
Hosted by Kim Roberts, VP Human Resources, Swiss Re
Referral schemes are often one of the cheapest, yet most under utilised channels to market.  Tackling issues such as diversity and cultural barriers this Direct Resourcing Think Tank promises to be an informative and valuable session for talent professionals harnessing themselves to meet the increase in demand for hiring whilst managing costs.
9th June9am – 12.30pm BSkyB
 Grant Way
Employer Branding
Hosted by John Paul Cardew, Talent Resourcing Manager – Corporate & Broadcast, BskyB
By cleverly linking your employer branding to your consumer branding internal resourcing functions can gain unprecedented traction in the market.  At this Direct Resourcing Think Tank BSkyB will be sharing their experience on the journey they have been through to achieve this.
23rd June9am – 12.30pm  Coller Capital
 33 Cavendish Square
Sourcing and Selection
Hosted by Karina Barnes, Head of Resourcing, Coller Capital
This Direct Resourcing Think Tank will look at direct sourcing and selection techniques now being utilised in niche markets where directly approaching talent has traditionally been looked upon negatively .  Areas under discussion will range from comparing the use of different direct sourcing tools such as Linked In, through to how much emphasis should be placed in personality profiling and at what point in the process should it be used. 
30th June9am – 12.30pm Penspen
 33 Cavendish Square
Where have all the Engineers gone?
Hosted by Richard Irving, International Head of Recruitment & Manpower, Penspen
This Direct Resourcing Think Tank will look at the skills gap many engineering reliant organisations are currently experiencing.  From shorter term solutions to bridge this skills gap through to longer term strategies to revitalise the sector this promises to be a thought provoking discussion.
14th July9am – 12.30pm AXA, Bristol  
21st July9am – 12.30pm PWC  
4th August9am – 12.30pm Towers Watson  
1st September9am – 12.30pm Experian  
8th September9am – 12.30pm  Eversheds  
15th September9am – 12.30pm  Alvarez and Marsal  
22nd September9am – 12.30pm  The GSMA,Global HQ

Seventh Floor
5 New Street Square
New Fetter Lane

29th September9am – 12.30pm  CH2M Hill