Candidate leaves within rebate period but invoice not paid

It is often the case that the customer does not fully understand their responsibilities when hiring a candidate, or the limit of the recruiter’s responsibilities. This is especially the case when a candidate leaves the employment within the rebate period.

In this case our client, a recruiter specialising in placing accountants into accountancy firms, placed a bookkeeper with a small firm in Manchester. The bookkeeper had the relevant qualifications that the accountancy firm had specified and was taken on following a successful interview. Our client issued an invoice for the placement.

After the invoice became overdue our client contacted the firm to request payment. The firm informed our client that they would not be settling the invoice as they had been forced to let the bookkeeper go after two weeks because she was not up to the job. As a gesture of goodwill our client offered to find a replacement provided the firm settle the invoice (even thought the rebate period no longer applied) but this was rejected by the firm. The client engaged Sterling to pursue the outstanding invoice.

Sterling made contact with the firm and started discussions with the senior partner. It was evident that he genuinely believed that he should not have to pay, insisting that it was the recruiter’s responsibility to find a suitable candidate and that it had become evident the bookkeeper did not have sufficient experience for the role. This is a discussion that Sterling’s collection agents have on a regular basis. We were able to engage the partner in a calm discussion, allowing him to put his points forward, before we explained in detail how those arguments related to the terms of business. Put simply, it was the firm’s responsibility to check whether the candidate was suitable for the role, and by not paying the invoice within terms the firm had negated their right to a rebate or replacement candidate.

After further discussions and emails explaining relevant clauses in the terms Sterling’s collector was able to get the partner’s acceptance that they were technically liable for the introduction fee. Despite this the partner still felt that he was morally in the right and was inclined to ‘have his day in court’. It took further discussions to explain that court decisions rely on whether each party has abided by terms of business, our client would certainly win the case based on the evidence, and that the firm would incur significant additional costs. Eventually the partner agreed to settle the invoice in full.

Whilst we were negotiating with the debtor, our client had been having discussions with the bookkeeper candidate he had placed. It became clear that the accountancy firm had expected her to carry out work way beyond the normal remit of a bookkeeper, and due to being short-staffed they had expected her to effectively cover the work of two