Operating Guidelines

ACSESS regularly develops and updates guidelines to assist industry members in answering common questions and handling awkward situations where the law is not black and white. ACSESS' intent is to provide members with guidelines which will protect their business image and the safety and well-being of their employees.

Assignment Completion Dates

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Staffing services should avoid documenting assignments as "indefinite" and they should give each assignment a documented completion date not to exceed 90 days in duration. It should be understood that client companies would still be provided the option to shorten assignments at their discretion and that assignment completion dates can be extended at the client's discretion.
Discriminatory Order Response

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The following statement is a suggested response to a discriminatory job order:

Thank you for calling (Company Name). Our company, a member of The Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services, is an equal opportunity employer and abides by all federal and provincial regulations and statutes prohibiting discrimination. We are committed to providing a work environment free from all forms of discrimination. This is our corporate policy and complies with the policy of our industry association. We would be happy to fill your order based on the required skills consistent with this understanding.

Note: If the caller persists in placing a discriminatory order, the job order must be politely but firmly declined.

All assignments must be filled and all referrals made without regard to race, colour, religion, sex, marital status, age or any other legally prohibited factor. Any job order specifying a preference for race, colour, sex, age, etc. must be politely but firmly declined. No job order coding or application coding can ever be tolerated.

Employer of Record

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ACSESS's long-standing position has been that staffing services shall be the employer of record for all temporary workers. Unfair competition exists in the marketplace when some staffing service firms improperly retain temporary workers as independent contractors and fail to remit appropriate source deductions, while other staffing service firms comply with the law and pay necessary deductions. Furthermore, ACSESS considers it important that members understand the significant financial liability which accompanies engaging temporary workers who do not meet the tests of independent contractors. A short-run cost advantage may turn into a government audit of your operations with the resulting penalties.

Employment Application Forms

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Human Rights Commissions across Canada assist employers in determining their rights and obligations with respect to employment advertisements, application forms and other aspects of the recruitment process. The wording of questions on your application forms is critical to avoid discrimination complaints. Check with ACSESS for further information or call your provincial Human Rights Commission office.

Hazardous Materials in the Workplace

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ACSESS recommends that:
  • All employees in the employ of a staffing service should receive a general orientation concerning the WHMIS program and hazardous materials in the workplace.
  • All instructive orientation provided to temporary workers should be available in both official languages and be both written and oral and/or audio to ensure that varied literacy levels do not preclude the employee from fully understanding the information provided.
  • All temporary employees should be provided with pictorial hazard symbols as approved by WHMIS.
  • When taking orders, the customer be required to provide specific information on hazardous materials and its WHMIS program.
  • Staffing services providing temporaries with information on (potential) hazardous materials when confirming an assignment; and where applicable a service visit to the customer's work site as further protection for the temporary employee and the customer.
  • Temporary services advise their employees to immediately call their office if work duties or the workplace itself are significantly different, as regards to hazardous materials, from their understanding at the time of accepting the assignment
Providing Service During a Labour Dispute

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ACSESS Position: Guidance Only

It is not in the long-term interests of the staffing services industry in Canada to profit from a short-term gain in billable hours which could seriously jeopardize the industry in the long-term. It is strongly recommended that members of ACSESS should not knowingly replace the permanent employees of clients, companies, or other organizations who are on strike.

With the exception of Quebec, each member company has the right to determine whether/not to provide services during a legal strike situation

The question of providing service during a labour dispute has been a concern to the temporary help service industry over the years. ACSESS recognizes that each member company has the right to decide whether or not to provide services during a legal strike situation. ACSESS also recognizes that the circumstances of every labour negotiation situation are very different and that it would be inappropriate for the association to take one single position.

Therefore, ACSESS offers the following guidance:

  • Develop an internal approval policy that requires senior level management approval before replacement workers are dispatched to a client workplace.
  • The province of Quebec has specific legislation prohibiting the provision of services during a strike. (s.109, Quebec Labour Code)
  • Respect that fact that a legal labour dispute is a matter between a union and the company in which the union is the bargaining agent for the permanent employees and it is not the function of the temporary help service company to intervene or attempt to influence the outcome.
  • Consider the possibility of adverse publicity where temporary help is perceived as having interfered in labour disputes
  • Consider the potential risks in the area of health and safety (crossing the picket lines, other potential health and safety concerns such as supervision at the workplace)
  • Consider opposition from labour organizations and the possibility of their reprisal upon your business and the industry. 
  • Consider the impression that you may make upon the makers of future legislation.
  • Consider you business case both in the long and short-term.
  • If you choose to proceed, give your employees full disclosure without undue pressure or influence to accept or remain on the assignment
Business Practices

ACSESS will continue in its commitment to the enhancement of existing Guidelines and the development of a toolbox of reference materials to assist our members.

ACSESS Guidelines for Staffing Services in Canada:

ACSESS Guidelines for Compliance with Competition Act

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The Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services recognizes that our members operate in a competitive business environment, and cautions that any and all discussions held at ACSESS meetings or events need to be conducted in strict compliance with the Competition Act.

The primary purpose of ACSESS is to represent the staffing services and recruitment industry across the country. It is of utmost important that everyone comply with Canada's Competition Act. Accordingly, ACSESS strongly advises the following:


  • Current or future prices
    • Price adjustments
    • Markups
    • Discounts
  • What is a fair profit level
  • Wage rates
  • Credit terms
  • Activities of competitors
  • Market allocations
  • Refusing to deal with clients

We encourage all ACSESS volunteers serving on various boards and/or committees to carefully review our Competition Guidelines and Recommended Practices.

Determining Right of Referral and Placement

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(Updated from the original guideline published by the Association of Professional Placement Agencies and Consultants)


A referral is bona fide when all the following are completed:

(i) The Employer agrees to accept the introduction of candidate(s) and their résumé(s) from the Staffing Service;

(ii) The Staffing Service informs the Candidate of the name and location of the Employer, including the name of the individual to whom the Candidate will report for an interview;

(iii) When the Employer is informed of the Candidate's name and qualifications or a résumé has been sent to the Employer and evidence of the timing of receipt has been established;

(iv) When both the Employer and Candidate agree, either directly or by authorized arrangement of the Staffing Service, on a commitment to an interview.

It is the responsibility of the Staffing Service to ensure it understands the client's internal policies and processes for staffing, and is dealing with the person who has hiring authority.


Staffing Service has made a bona fide referral of the same Candidate to the same Employer, the Staffing Service entitled to the fee shall be determined by the following:

i. If the Employer is composed of two or more divisions or units and each division or unit has it's own independent hiring authority such divisions or units will be considered as separate Employers and the Staffing Service referring the Candidate to the division or unit hiring him/her is entitled to the fee.

ii. In the situation where two Staffing Services refer a Candidate to the same Employer, or the same division or unit of an Employer which division or unit has its own independent hiring authority, then the Staffing Service making the earliest bona fide referral shall be entitled to the fee; provided however, that if the subsequent bona fide referral occurs thirty or more days after the original interview of Candidate by Employer, and no active interest or consideration is being given the Candidate as a result of the earliest bona fide referral the employment shall be presumed to be the result of the subsequent bona fide referral and that Staffing Service shall be entitled to the fee. The earliest bona fide referral shall be determined by the date the interview was arranged and not the date the interview actually took place.

iii. It is recognized, however, employers may, from time to time, establish selection criteria differing from the above recommended guidelines. Should a Staffing Service and Employer agree to alternative selection criteria, then that criteria shall take precedence.


i. If a Staffing Service submits a résumé to a company at its request and the company, after reviewing the résumé, seeks out and hires the Candidate the Staffing Service has clearly been responsible for having brought about the introduction and is due a fee according to the service's fee schedule.

ii. However, should another Staffing Service arrange the bona fide referral, then it is entitled to the fee. This is to discourage the practice of sending out résumés and trying to collect a fee when in fact another service has established rapport and accomplished arranging the interview. A résumé is binding only when there is no other Staffing Service involved. Two services sending the same résumé to the same company automatically disqualifies one service when the other service arranges an actual bona fide referral. In other words, the service that "caused" the placement to take place is entitled to the fee.


ACSESS members are expected to present the highest standards of professionalism in the Staffing Services industry. Adherence to fairness, integrity, common sense, respect and sound business practices will provide value to Employer, Candidate and Staffing Service relationships.

To ensure professionalism the following procedures are recommended:

i. Fee terms should be discussed and forward to all clients to avoid misunderstandings;

ii. A documented job order should be on file at service office;

iii. Notice of candidate introduction and résumé identification should follow arrangement;

iv. Hire confirmed (verbally and/or written).

Workforce Transfer Guidelines

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Workforce Transfer:
[Definition] The conversion of a temporary worker or independent contractor from one staffing supplier to another at the request of a client company.

This conversion may occur as a result of an RFP process, consolidation of a multiple supplier base, a service satisfaction issue with the current supplier or a client decision to utilize a new staffing service. A workforce transfer is the conversion of any temporary or contract worker at the direction of the client company to the payroll and database of another staffing supplier and may involve one, a few or thousands of workers at the request of the client company.

ACSESS recognizes that all businesses operate in a competitive environment and are driven by the need to meet the demands of clients. Thus it is incumbent upon all businesses to take independent steps to protect their business, and to have agreements in place with their clients. Such agreements for the provision of staffing services should include reference to vendor, client and employee relationships in the event that the agreement is terminated.

Recommended Bidding Practices for ACSESS members:

Recommended Bidding Practices for ACSESS members:

1. As part of any bidding process, members should outline the "transition period and methodology," of a workforce transfer.

a. When a bidding company receives notification that they have been declined from further consideration, the declined staffing service should begin negotiations with their client regarding their exit strategy from their agreement/partnership.

b. Negotiations should commence soon after receiving notification. The transition method should be determined based on potential customer contractual obligations, related to incumbent contracts, time cards, and invoices, or any additional and pertinent issues relevant to the business relationship as it existed between the client and the exiting staffing supplier.

c. Upon notification of a declined bid or proposal, the declined staffing firm has an obligation to its temporary or contract workers to notify them of the current situation, providing as much information as is available.

d. The outgoing firm and its employees should, whenever feasible, be given reasonable prior notice that the account is being transferred; assigned employees of the outgoing firm should, whenever feasible, be allowed to continue working on the payroll of the outgoing firm for some reasonable transition period; thereafter, they should be given the choice of accepting an assignment with another customer of the outgoing firm if one is available, or applying to stay on their current assignment with the new staffing firm.

It is expected that the parties will negotiate reasonably and in good faith.

2. These guidelines are not intended to prohibit or discourage any other provisions or arrangements, agreeable to the parties that achieve an orderly transfer of accounts. ACSESS members are encouraged, whenever feasible, to specifically address the terms and conditions relating to the transfer of accounts in written agreements with their customers.

The practice of headhunting for Staffing Professionals

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Adopted October 2004
Revised December 2007

As with many other industries where the key asset of a business is its people, the staffing industry has traditionally experienced a fairly significant movement of employees within the industry.


The ACSESS Code of Ethics & Standards states that a member "will not misuse membership privileges for the purpose of recruiting a member's staff, or in any way that may otherwise injure our candidates, employees or competitors".  ACSESS also recognizes that it cannot, and should not, restrict the right of staffing professionals to seek employment of their choice. 
The following is therefore presented as a reference for Member Firms and Staffing Professionals:

  1. ACSESS members are encouraged to publicly announce and advertise all job opportunities for recruiters and consultants, and other positions within the staffing services industry;
  2. ACSESS prohibits the use of membership lists, both paper and electronic, as a means to solicit prospective employees;
  3. ACSESS prohibits individual professionals or member firms from using association events, event lists, and exhibits as a recruitment opportunity.
Applicable Law

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Both the Code of Ethics and the ACSESS Guidelines are subject to the applicable legislation in the jurisdiction in which a company operates.

It is, therefore, the company's responsibility to interpret the Code of Ethics and the ACSESS Guidelines in accordance with all appropriate Federal and Provincial legislation.

Independent Agency

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ACSESS recognizes that each owner or manager of a Personnel Placement Agency or Temporary Service Company is free to conduct his/her business in any way (s)he sees fit. As such, it is not ACSESS's intention to interfere in any way in the day to day management of any member company.

However, all companies wishing to be members of ACSESS are obligated to adhere to both the letter and the intent of the Code of Ethics and the ACSESS Guidelines.

ACSESS Case Studies