BBC, ITV AND CHANNEL 4 VACANCIES ALL APPEAR BEHIND PAYWALL
* GRADUATE FOG EXCLUSIVE! *
A media jobs board has shocked cash-strapped young jobseekers by asking them to pay a fee just to view job adverts. Critics say the company has “crossed the line” but the job board has insisted that nobody has “been coerced or pressured in to taking up membership.”
In what appears to be the latest example of private companies taking advantage of desperate, unemployed youngsters, Media Moose is demanding that its users pay a monthly subscription to view available positions. This is highly unusual in the UK jobs market, where the cost of recruitment always lies with the employer.
Behind the Media Moose paywall, jobseekers who fork out a fee of £4.99 per month (or £6.99 for two months) will find adverts for vacancies at the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky, MTV, Absolute Radio, Warner Bros, ITN Productions, the British Film Institute and Pinewood Studios.
It is not clear whether these companies are aware that their vacancies are being used like this.
Media Moose has defended its business model by telling Graduate Fog that those who sign up have not “been coerced or pressured in to taking up membership.” (See our correspondence with them below). And the FAQs section of their website explains:
At under £5, the Media Moose membership fee is affordable — but critics say the company has crossed a line in charging young jobseekers a fee at all, let alone just to view the adverts.
Cary Curtis, founder of Give A Grad A Go — the graduate recruitment agency we partner with on the Graduate Fob Job Board — said he was stunned that an agency would charge young jobseekers just to view adverts for roles. “Business models for job boards and recruitment agencies vary, but they all pass their costs to the employer,” he told us. “The jobseeker never pays a penny – and in my view never should pay a penny – to apply for a job. In my opinion, I believe that by charging an applicant, this agency has crossed the line.”
Graduate Fog was alerted to this story by one of our readers, Kristina, 26, who studied promotional media at Southampton Solent University. She told us:
“I was shocked when I realised Media Moose is charging jobseekers a fee just to view their jobs – I’ve never seen that before. All the other job boards are free to use (I signed up to a bunch when I finished my studies, so still get notifications from them).
“It seems a bit cynical and quite frankly disgusting to pick out job ads that are free to view elsewhere, hide them behind a paywall and then charge jobseekers to see them. But I’m not surprised. Lots of companies are proving to be very good at finding new ways to take advantage of young jobseekers, especially those they know are desperate to break into competitive industries like media.
“It would be a worry if this was the start of a trend. The subscription fee isn’t very big, but jobseekers sign up to multiple platforms, not just one, which is exaclty what I did after graduation so still get notifications from them. So if lots of job boards start charging to view their jobs, graduates could end up paying £50 or so a month.
“I wouldn’t use Media Moose but I’m sure some people will. It looks like they have some pretty attractive brands involved, and young people are so desperate for jobs right now that I can imagine some people will definitely sign up.”
Graduate Fog contacted Media Moose to ask them to explain their unusual business model. This is what happened:
To: Media Moose
From: Graduate Fog
Date: 10 April 2015
Subject: Questions about your business model
I run Graduate Fog, the blog for job hunting graduates.
One of my readers has drawn my attention to Media Moose, as they thought it was unusual for jobseekers to be asked to pay a fee just to view job adverts. I agree – I don’t think I have seen this before. It is always the employer who pays a fee to find suitable candidates, not the other way around. Can you explain how you justify charging this fee, especially when many of your users will be at the start of their career and struggling financially?
In addition, I would like to know whether the brands you say you work with – including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky – are aware that you are placing their vacancies behind a paywall and charging young jobseekers to view them? By using their logos it seems you are suggesting that they have granted their permission for you to do this.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Founder, Graduate Fog
A few days later, an unnamed Media Moose spokesperson (‘The MM Team’) replied:
To: Graduate Fog
From: Media Moose
Date: 14 April 2015
Sorry for the late reply.
I can appreciate you acting concerned for one of your members. However, please allow me to put these concerns to rest.
Under employment law, particularly the Employment Agencies Act 1973 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1973/35) it clearly outline the roles and duties that Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses have to adhere to:
What is deemed to be an Employment Agency or/and Employment Business:
‘2)For the purposes of this Act “employment agency” means the business (whether or not carried on with a view to profit and whether or not carried on in conjunction with any other business) of providing services (whether by the provision of information or otherwise) for the purpose of finding workers employment with employers or of supplying employers with workers for employment by them.
(3)For the purposes of this Act “employment business” means the business (whether or not carried on with a view to profit and whether or not carried on in conjunction with any other business) of supplying persons in the employment of the person carrying on the business, to act for, and under the control of, other persons in any capacity.’
Fees and charges:
‘6 Restriction on charging persons seeking employment, etc.E+W+S
(1)Except in such cases or classes of case as the Secretary of State may prescribe, a person carrying on an employment agency or an employment business shall not demand or directly or indirectly receive from any person any fee for finding him employment or for seeking to find him employment.’
However, there are exceptions to not charging candidate/members/job seekers for the aid of employment and this is outlined in Regulation 26 of the Employment Agencies Act 1973:
‘(b) Schedule 3 — Occupations in respect of which employment agencies may charge fees to work-seekers (regulation 26)
9.21 The restriction on charging work-finding fees to work -seekers does not apply to agencies in the entertainment sector who have found workseekers employment in any of the following occupations:
– actor, musician, singer, dancer, background artist, extra, walk-on or other performer; – composer, writer, artist, di rector, production manager, lighting cameraman, camera operator, make up artist, clothes, hair or make up stylist, film editor, action arranger or co-ordinator, stunt arranger, costume or production designer, recording engineer, property master, film continuity person, sound mixer, photographer, stage manager, producer, choreographer, theatre designer; – photographic or fashion model; or – professional sports person’
The positions we advertise on the MediaMoose website all fall in to these categories and in accordance with the Department for Business Innovation & Skills and the above mentioned parliamentary act, we operate well within the boundaries of the law.
As for companies such as the ones we work in relation too, they are aware of this business practice as that is a common avenue within the industry.
I hope this has put your mind to rest.
Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any further questions.
We admit we glazed over during some of the legal stuff, but we got the gist – and we weren’t too impressed. Especially as they’d ignored our question about the ethics of charging young jobseekers to view job adverts. So we wrote back:
To: Media Moose
From: Graduate Fog
Date: 15 April 2015
Hi MM Team
Thanks for this. Unfortunately, I can’t say that it does put my mind at rest.
I was unaware that there is a legal loophole for the entertainment industry, how strange.
If we accept that there is no legal issue with putting this class of jobs behind a paywall, do you not still feel there is an ethical issue here? You seem to have ignored my question about whether you could be seen to be taking advantage of desperate young jobseekers by charging a fee. I would be grateful if you could address this please.
Lastly, on your point about the media brands being aware that this practice is acceptable in the industry, can I just clarify whether that means you have had no direct contact with any of the big organisations you advertise jobs for? I am thinking specifically about the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky. Do you think they would be happy to see their brands used in this way?
To which they replied:
To: Graduate Fog
From: Media Moose
15 April 2015
Firstly, let me point out that the there is no legal loop hole regarding the charging of fee’s through the entertainment industry. This is the law, this is how it has always been and this is how the industry is sanctioned.
Secondly, in terms of ethics, membership is clearly outlined, all the terms and conditions are transparent and membership can be cancelled at any point without having a ‘usage clause/minimum membership term’ nor has any member been coerced or pressured in to taking up membership.
Finally, the companies we have worked with and continue to work with are fully aware of the law and how the industry works in regards to employment and if they had and reservations, would not have been, or continue to deal with ourselves or any other media organisation in this respect.
Like our reader Kristina, Graduate Fog is shocked that anyone would charge jobseekers just to view job adverts – to us it seems like the dictionary definition of taking advantage of young people desperate to get their careers started. We would also like to know if any of the media brands that Media Moose says it works with are aware that their jobs are being used like this. Graduate Fog feels strongly that any brand that claims to care about fair access to the best junior jobs cannot condone the practice of hiding adverts behind a paywall.
* WOULD YOU SIGN UP TO MEDIA MOOSE?
Is it fair for agencies who cherry-pick jobs to charge jobseekers to view them? Or should the cost for recruitment always lie with the employer? We’d love to know what you think, so have your say below…