OFT levies 39.3m fine on recruiters

SIX recruitment agencies have been fined for price fixing and forming a cartel, with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) slapping a penalty on market leader Hays equal to half its estimated 2009-10 net profit.<br /><br />The OFT imposed fines totalling &pound;39.3m yesterday for breaching competition law.<br /><br />A week ago, the OFT handed out fines totalling &pound;129.5m to 103 construction firms for colluding when bidding for work on projects such as hospitals, schools and housing refurbishments. The six recruitment agencies that were fined had boycotted ParcUK, an intermediary between staffing agencies and construction companies which threatened to erode margins enjoyed by the recruitment firms, the OFT said in its report.<br /><br />&ldquo;Instead of competing with ParcUK, and each other, on price and quality, the parties formed a cartel,&rdquo; the OFT said, adding group members met five times between 2004 and 2006 to fix rates they would charge to construction companies.