Human resources body CIPD says it’s investigating 19 members over their alleged involvement in blacklisting


The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is investigating 19 members who work in human resources positions in construction over their alleged involvement in blacklisting.

Peter Cheese, the chief executive of the CIPD – the world’s largest professional association for human resources (HR) managers with 135,000 members – made the revelation in his evidence to the Scottish Affairs committee yesterday.

The committee is continuing to investigate construction industry blacklisting, an inquiry it began in June last year.

Building revealed in May that CIPD was investigating whether members “alleged to have made use of TCA services” breached its professional code of conduct in doing so but this is the first time that a number has emerged.

An investigation carried out by Building also found that of the 39 alleged main contacts of Ian Kerr, the boss of blacklisting firm the Consulting Association, who are still known to be working, 78% remain in senior HR roles within construction while 61% are still working in HR at the same firms they were before.

Cheese told the committee that the investigations were based on information already in the public domain and said members found guilty could face a range of sanctions ranging from a written reprimand to expulsion from the CIPD, which is a membership body.

He added that the whole investigation process could take 18 months to complete.

But chairman Ian Davidson questioned whether CIPD was taking action in the public interest or in the interests of the HR profession.

He pressed Cheese on whether the CIPD would make public the results of the investigation and said repeatedly that the committee was undecided whether the organisation was “part of the problem or part of the solution”.

When Cheese remarked that it was “curious” that CIPD had received no external complaints about blacklisting, Davidson suggested this was because of a perception that it was “unable or unwilling to act”.

Back in May, the CIPD chief executive said he wanted start a debate on blacklisting with the construction industry and has been writing to HR managers in the sector to say so.

“People in the HR industry are very concerned about this,” he said.

In a statement ahead of his appearance before the committee yesterday, Cheese, said: “We very much welcome the Scottish Affairs Select Committee inquiry into blacklisting in the construction industry in the past. We take the issue very seriously. I condemn the practice, the law has now rightly been tightened, and it mustn’t happen again.

“It was partly in response to the Information Commissioner’s Office bringing this issue to light that my predecessor started the process of strengthening our Code of Professional Conduct and our investigation and disciplinary procedures. The revised Code and procedures came into force in July 2012.

“We are investigating a small number of individual CIPD members alleged to have made use of employee blacklists in their recruitment processes via The Consulting Association’s services.

“We’re also developing new good practice guidance on the wider issue of pre-employment vetting. This will clearly restate that blacklisting is illegal, but will also broaden out to address complex current and future issues surrounding pre-employment vetting, particularly the potential for managers to search electronic profiles through social media and other sources of information.”