Dutch television program Radar called a number of temporary employment agencies in the Netherlands, presenting themselves as clients who were looking for staff. Their research, which phoned 78 temp agencies, showed that nearly half, or 47%, responded to a discriminatory request.

In the conversations, Radar’s editors said that the office recently had an unpleasant experience with Moroccans, Surinamese or Turks and asked if the agency can take this fact into account. Of all 78 approached employment agencies, 47% said they could help, while 14% explained the responsibility to the client, 36% said ‘no’ and 3% made no decision.

“Unacceptable and disappointing,” Dutch Federation of Private Employment Agencies (ABU) Director Jurriën Koops said. “Unacceptable, because consciously agreeing with a discriminatory request from a client is in violation of the law. And disappointing, because every case of discrimination is too much.”

“It teaches us that we need to keep informing and training our members and employees continuously,” Koops said. “And that discrimination is a persistent social problem that can not only be solved with information. It requires a cultural change that goes beyond just the industry. Intensive cooperation with clients is part of this. Fortunately, we are on the right track. Seven years ago, more than 70% of the temporary employment agencies came along with a discriminating request from a client, now that number is significantly lower (47%). But we are not there yet.”

The ABU added that it has special rules of conduct to prevent discrimination as well as workshops and webinars on the subject and training programs. “ABU members must finally be able to demonstrate that they have a policy to prevent discrimination,” ABU stated.

The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights stated that it was ‘stunned’ that so many employment agencies have said ‘yes’. Chairman of the College Adriana van Dooijeweert said that it was particularly striking because intermediaries know that discriminatory behaviour is not allowed, but still responded to the request.

Randstad also responded to the research,“Unfortunately, research by Radar shows that temporary employment agencies do not always respond ‘no’ to a request from a client to select on the basis of origin. This is at odds with Randstad’s policy in which discrimination is never accepted, in any form whatsoever.”