NMa Draws up Report on Organisations in the Temporary Employment Agency Sector
The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has drawn up a report on four organisations in the temporary employment agency sector for the abuse of quality marks to exclude competitors. The organisations, on which NMa has drawn up a report, are: Algemene Bond Uitzendondernemingen (ABU) (Association of Employment Agencies), Vereniging Registratie Onderaannemers (VRO) (Association for the Registration of Subcontractors) and its legal successor, Stichting Verificatie Registratie van Ondernemingen (SVRO) (Foundation for Verification of the Registration of Companies), and Stichting Financiële Toetsing (SFT) (Foundation for Financial Assessment). In NMa's opinion, these organisations contravened the prohibition on cartels.
These organisations set up certification schemes to which only temporary employment companies could affiliate which were members. The selection of companies which were admitted to the schemes was controlled by the organisations. Foreign entrants to the market were not admitted to the schemes, nor were members of NBBU (Nederlandse Bond van Bemiddelings- en Uitzendondernemingen) (Netherlands Association of Intermediaries and Temporary Employment Companies) and non-affiliates. ABU's members represent 67% of the market. The organisations involved have consequently contravened the Competition Act, according to NMa.
Large customers make frequent use of companies listed in the SFT register because they are under the impression that they are exempt from the risk that social insurance contributions and salary tax will be levied on them. The organisations responsible for collecting these statutory payments (for instance, the Tax Department) have indicated, however, that they have not granted such exemptions.
The Competition Act allows certification and quality schemes, but not if the schemes are designed in such a way that competitors can be excluded on unreasonable grounds.
The infringements took place from at least 1 January 1990 up to the present. NMa started this investigation following various reports and complaints. NMa partly based its investigation on data collected during an on-site inspection on the premises of Stichting VRO. The organisations involved may respond to the report in the coming period. After this, NMa will take a final decision on whether an infringement has been committed and, if so, whether a fine and/or an order subject to a penalty will be imposed.