Recent suggestions by the managing director of the law firm Lawspeed that Umbrella Companies were gearing up to compete with recruitment agencies have been firmly rejected by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

Adrian Marlowe had last week suggested that that the prospect of deregulation following the lengthy consultation process into agency conduct rules and the introduction of the Employment Agencies Act had opened the door to Umbrella Services to compete directly with agencies, offering placement-finding services.

In an article published yesterday on Shout99, Mr Marlowe repeats the claim that “there is evidence that some Umbrellas are already now offering direct ‘competing’ services, both in terms of making placements and offering other services.” He advises recruiters to include anti-competition clauses in their dealings with Umbrellas.

After canvassing all of its affiliate members, however, APSCo found “absolutely no evidence” of a single Umbrella Company planning to breach confidential candidate data supplied by agencies for competition.

Samantha Hurley, APSCo’s head of external relations, said: “We received over 30 responses from Umbrella Providers all confirming that they have absolutely no intention, now or in the foreseeable future, of competing with their recruitment company clients by providing such services.”

She described Mr Marlowe’s comments as non-specific, unfounded and potentially damaging. APSCo’s Umbrella Company members, she said, provide a “valuable and professional service” to recruitment firms and candidates alike.

Ms Hurley added: “We found absolutely no evidence of umbrella companies breaching the confidentiality of their arrangements with recruitment firms, or of them deliberately setting themselves up in competition with their recruitment company clients.”

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