You, the client, email 3 – 5 recruitment agencies. The “TO” field is blank, or you have addressed it to yourself, but in BCC are your most “dependable recruiters.

The email is received by your trusty recruiter and the first thing she or he does is jump onto a job board and conduct a keyword search. “Accountant” + “Cape Town” + “500k” + “available immediately”. That same trusty recruiter then puts a CV onto a company letterhead and emails it back to you. In many cases, the trusty recruiter has not even contacted the candidate.

You see, there is just enough information on the job board for the recruiter to know that it is likely that the candidate would be interested in the job. And who would not be, in this job scarce environment.

Now you might be thinking, “super, I have CVs delivered to my inbox, same day! Great service….”

This is what we in the executive search industry like to call “scrubbing”. It is worse than washing week-old dirty dishes under lockdown. And unlike washing dishes, it is illegal. ILLEGAL. Do not pass begin, do not collect R200.00, go straight to jail (or maybe just pay a little fine Mzanzi).

But, in South Africa (and globally) there is the small matter of the POPI Act – Protection of Personal Information Act, which eruditely states: “personal information may only be processed with consent”. With consent being the operative word here. It is like a marriage, or a friendship, or any relationship – it’s consensual. Get it? Consent! The Act also provides for inter alia, the following:

1. Processing Limitation:
  • Information about a client and/or candidate must be processed lawfully.
  • The information must be processed in a manner that does not intrude on the privacy of the client and/or candidate.
  • Personal information may only be processed if the client and/or candidate provide their consent, except where we (AltGen) are required to do so by law.
2. Purpose Specific:
  • Candidates and/or client’s information must be collected for a specific purpose, which is properly defined and for legitimate reasons.
  • Clients and/or candidates must be made aware of the purpose of the collection of the information in accordance with point 5 – “Transparency / Openness”.
  • Personal information may not be retained any longer than is necessary for achieving the purpose for which the information was collected unless the client and/or candidate has consented to the retention of the personal information.
3. Limitation on Further Processing:
  • Personal information may not be processed further in a way that is incompatible with the purpose for which the information was collected initially.
  • AltGen collects personal information for recruitment and will only use collected personal information for this purpose unless written consent is obtained from the client and/or candidate should the need arise for it to be used for another purpose.
4. Information Quality:
  • Employees collecting personal information from clients and/or candidates must take proper steps to ensure that the information is complete, accurate, current, and not misleading in any way.
5. Transparency / Openness:
  • Personal information may only be collected if the client and/or candidate have been made aware of the information being collected, where the information is not being collected from the client and/or candidate the source from which it is collected must be made known to the client and/or candidate.
  • The purpose for which the information is being collected must be disclosed to the client and/or candidate.
  • Clients and/or candidates whose personal information we (AltGen) are collecting either directly or through other sources must be informed of who we are and be provided with our details.
6. Security Safeguards:
  • Technical and organisational measures must be in place to secure the integrity of personal information and to guard against the risk of loss, damage, or destruction thereof.
  • Personal information must also be protected against any unauthorised or unlawful access or processing.
  • Clients and/or candidates must be made aware as soon as reasonably possible after the discovery of a compromise of their personal information being accessed or acquired by any unauthorized person.
7. Participation of Individuals:
  • Clients and/or candidates, upon providing adequate proof of identity, are entitled to know particulars of their personal information held by us and are also entitled to know all third parties, or categories of third parties, who have, or have had, access to their information.
  • They are also entitled to correct any information held by us or request that it is disregarded after using the information for the initial purpose.
8. Accountability:
  • Employees will be held accountable for the management/implementation of the points listed above.

So, at the end of the day, it comes down to ethics, respect, and accountability. It is up to the recruitment agency to ensure best practices are adhered to, but it is up to you as the direct employer to ensure that your chosen service provider is legally compliant, after all – it’s a matter of association!