Hays and AndersElite questioned by OFT over alleged breaches of competition law

The Office of Fair Trading has launched an investigation into alleged breaches of competition law in the construction recruitment sector.

Two recruitment agencies, Hays and AndersElite, have confirmed that they have been questioned. The inquiry will address claims of price fixing and the boycotting of a competitor.

The investigation is understood to involve a number of other firms. A spokesperson for the OFT, who declined to name the other companies involved, said: “The OFT can confirm that it has visited several business premises as part of a Competition Act investigation into allegations of anti-competitive behaviour in the provision of recruitment services for the construction industry.”

Hays confirmed that it had been visited in June and was co-operating with the investigation under the OFT’s “leniency programme”, which reduces the fine a firm might face in return for assistance with its enquiries.

A Hays spokesperson said: “The OFT investigation relates to a small part of Hays’ construction and property business. The board believes that any financial impact of the matters under investigation will not be material to the group.”

CDI, the US owner of AndersElite, has said the OFT is likely to impose a fine on the firm.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation, the recruitment industry’s trade body, said it had been told some agencies were under investigation but was awaiting further details.

A confederation spokesperson said: “We understand that the OFT’s investigation is not yet concluded. The REC has written to member agencies that we are aware they are subject to this investigation, and may instigate our complaints and disciplinary procedure if there is evidence that our code of professional practice has been breached.”