The confederation’s Professional Standards Committee quizzed member firms in detail following the Office of fair Trading Investigation.
The reprimand will remain on the five’s records for two years and is the maximum sanction by the confederation short of expulsion.
The five REC members reprimaned are:
Randstad CPE (incorporating the former Hill McGlynn & Associates Limited and Beresford Blake Thomas Limited).
All the firms concerned admitted to the OFT that they breached the Competition Act and accepted that they have broken the REC Code of Professional Practice.
Hays Construction and Property (Hays) which was also found by the OFT to have breached of the Competition Act, and which was also fined by the OFT, has not been reprimanded by the PSC.
This is because Hays was not in REC membership when the offences occurred and so the REC cannot take any action under the REC Complaints and Disciplinary Procedure.
Hays have participated fully in our investigation and have reassured the PSC and the OFT that they have taken all the steps necessary to fully comply with competition law.
The OFT found that all the organisations had taken adequate action to ensure no repeat breaches were likely to happen.
Phil Westwood, Chair of the REC’s PSC, said: “We have looked at these REC members very carefully. They all accepted that by breaking competition law they also broke the REC’s Code of Professional Practice.
“This was a very serious breach and the PSC’s role is to ensure ongoing compliance on behalf of the membership. We decided to issue this public reprimand which will remain on the businesses’ records for two years. Any offence by any of these members in relation to the REC’s Code of Professional Practice during this period would be treated very seriously.
“However the wider lesson for the industry is to recognise the importance of ensuring all staff are trained to avoid anti-competitive behaviour, and that compliance with competition law is built into induction, training and company policies so that this will never happen again.”
Kevin Green, the REC’s Chief Executive said: “This has been bad news for our industry and our reputation has been damaged.”