Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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London agencies lacking model behaviour

London agencies lacking model behaviour

DEPARTMENT FOR BUSINESS, ENTERPRISE AND REGULATORY REFORM News Release (2009/56) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 12 March 2009

The Government has put modelling and entertainment agencies in London under the spotlight. Nine agencies have been issued with warnings for failing to comply with the law.

This follows an investigation by the Government's Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate. Of the nine offending agencies, inspectors found 37 separate infringements of the law.

Many of these offences were relatively minor, but the worst practices identified included:

* charging illegal fees
* sub-standard accounting practices

Employment Relations Minister Pat McFadden said:

""There are some agencies willing to exploit models and entertainers who think they've got the X-Factor but don't know their rights. This behaviour is unacceptable and agencies that flout the law should get their final curtain call.

"The Government has doubled the number of Employment Agency Standards inspectors so that they can get out on the ground and target the rule-breakers."

The Employment Agency Standards team acted in London following reports of improper activity in agencies supplying staff in the modelling and entertainment sectors. Follow up investigations will take place to make sure that the agencies concerned have acted to change their ways. Agencies that continue to disobey the law could be prosecuted, hit hard with fines or even banned from operating for up to 10 years.

The Government will shortly publish a consultation, which will seek views on any further steps that might be needed to protect models and entertainers.

These inspections come hot on the heels of a successful prosecution of an agent in the West Midlands, who withheld £3,500 from entertainers including comedian Tom O'Connor.

People can report employment agencies they suspect of breaking the law by contacting the Employment Agency Standards inspectorate on 0845 955 5105 or emailing

Notes to Editors

1. The Employment Agency Standards inspectorate is part of the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. The Inspectorate carries out inspections of agencies on the basis of perceived risk of non-compliance and investigates complaints about agency conduct.

2. The inspectors were in London in the week beginning 23 February, visiting 10 agencies in total.

3. Agencies who break the law could face prosecution and fines of up to £5,000 per offence. Rogue agencies could also be banned from operating for up to ten years.

4. For legal reasons, Department for Business cannot name the agencies warned, unless they are prosecuted or prohibited.

5. Under the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations 2003 it is illegal to charge both the hirer and the work-seeker for finding employment for a work-seeker. Agencies are also required to protect fees taken from models and entertainers in a separate pot. This is so that in the unlikely event that an agency went out of business, employees' money would be guaranteed.

6. Further Information on the rules around models and entertainers can be found here -

7. Information on the recent prosecution of Gerald Leslie Hemming for withholding fees from entertainers can be accessed here -

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