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).

Business Transfer Guidelines

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Adopted October 2004
Revised June 2024

ACSESS recognizes that all businesses operate in a competitive environment and are driven by the need to meet
the demands of clients. It is therefore incumbent upon all members 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 an agreement is
A conversion of temporary workers or independent contractors may occur as a result of an RFP process or
consolidation of a multiple supplier base, and members should outline the “transition period and methodology”
for a workforce transfer* as a part of any bidding process.

Recommended Practice for Outgoing Firm
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 the exit strategy from their

b. Negotiations should commence as soon as possible 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. The Outgoing (declined staffing firm) and Incoming organizations should meet to collaboratively discuss
the business transfer as soon as feasibly possible following receipt of notice of the transfer by the client.

d. Upon notification of a declined bid or proposal, the Outgoing Firm has an obligation to its Associates
(temporary and contract workers) to notify them of the current situation, providing as much information as is
available. Such notification should occur within 48 hours of the declined staffing firm receiving notice from the

e. Associates will be provided with all relevant information in order to make an informed decision based on
all options available to them (refer to Template for Associate Letter). Associates should, whenever feasible, be
allowed to continue working with 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 Incoming firm. The recommended timeline is a
minimum of 30 days for current Associates to remain with the Outgoing firm.

f. The Outgoing firm will provide to the Incoming firm a list with full contact details for all Associates who
have confirmed their choice to remain on the assignment through the Incoming firm. This information will be
provided to the Incoming firm no less than 7 days prior to the transfer occurring.

g. The outgoing firm will end all transferred Associates, issue ROE’s (where applicable) and pay all
outstanding amounts owed to the Associate.

Recommended Practice for Incoming Firm
a. When the Incoming Firm receives notice that they have been chosen to provide staffing services it is
expected that they will not release information about the award of their new client until notice has been
provided to the Outgoing Firm by the client.

b. The Incoming Firm will participate in joint meeting(s) with the Outgoing Firm and the client to ensure the
transi????on is seamless.

c. The Incoming Firm will meet with the Outgoing Firm to collabora????vely discuss the business transfer and
transition timelines which should be a minimum of 30 days for the transfer of Associates (refer to End User Client

d. The Incoming Firm will make no contact with the Associates (temporary workers/independent
contractors) of the Outgoing Firm until such time as the outgoing firm has issued communication to their

e. The Incoming Firm will not register Associates from the outgoing firm and place them immediately with
another client.

f. The Incoming Firm may start to work onsite and recruit for net new positions on day one, but will not
transi????on any existing Associate of the Outgoing Firm for a minimum of 30 days.

g. Incoming firms will provide training and support to the client’s managers and supervisors during the
transition period.

Recommendations for the Client
a. The client should provide notice of the award as soon as possible to both Incoming and Outgoing
organizations in a timely fashion.

b. The client should provide direction to the Outgoing Firm on timelines for the transition of service
respec????ng recommended industry practoces regarding communica????on with Associates of the Outgoing Firm, and
the minimum ????meline for transition of Associates of 30 days.

c. The client should provide a separate space for each firm if they would like both organizations onsite during
the transition.

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

*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.

The practice of headhunting for Staffing Professionals

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Adopted October 2004
Revised December 2007 & June 2024

As with many other industries where the key asset of a business is its people, the staffing industry has traditonally
experienced a significant movement of employees within the industry. The ACSESS Code of Ethics & Standards is
designed to uphold the integrity and professionalism of the staffing services industry, partcularly in the context of
recruitment practices among member firms.

ACSESS Code of Ethics & Standards
A member of ACSESS "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 recognizes the right of
staffing professionals to seek employment of their choice and does not seek to restrict this right. However, it is
imperative that member firms adhere to ethical recruitment practices to maintain the trust and respect of the

Recruitment Practices for Member Firms and Staffing Professionals

1. Public Job Announcements

  • ACSESS members are encouraged to publicly announce and advertise all job opportunities for recruiters, consultants, and other positions within the staffing services industry.

2. Prohibition on Misusing Membership Lists 

  • ACSESS prohibits the use of membership lists, both paper and electronic, to solicit prospective employees.

3. Restriction on Recruitment at Association Events

  • ACSESS prohibits individual professionals or member firms from using association events, event lists, and exhibits as a recruitment opportunity.

4. Non-Poaching Agreements

  • Member firms are encouraged to enter into non-poaching agreements, explicitly prohibiting direct solicitation of employees from fellow member firms.

5. Transparency in Hiring Practices

  • Member firms are encouraged to maintain transparency in their hiring practices, including openly advertising job vacancies.

6. Collaboration and Partnership

  • ACSESS will foster a culture of collaboration and partnership among member firms to build trust and reduce poaching temptations.

7. Policy Review and Updates

  • ACSESS will regularly review and update its policies to reflect industry changes and challenges.

By adhering to these guidelines, ACSESS member firms demonstrate their commitment to ethical recruitment
practices, contributing to a professional and respectful staffing industry environment.

Managed Service Providers

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Adopted May 2024

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 with a Managed Service Provider partnership the following procedures are

  1. Fee terms (payment terms etc.) should be discussed and documented to avoid misunderstandings.
  2. A documented vendor fee should be on file at all participating organization offices.
  3. A documented markup should be on file at all participating organization offices (if applicable).
  4. Pay rates may be discussed and not deemed to be collusion.
  5. Discussions that take place in a vendor neutral or MSP environment may include pay rates, markups, business processes and other relevant program details. In this environment the expectation is transparent discussions.
  6. Suppliers are expected to fulfill customer and MSP (Vendor Neutral) requirements in good faith.
  7. MSP (Vendor Neutral) providers are expected to maintain confidentiality throughout the program.
  8. Confidentiality must be maintained to protect all parties.
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.

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