Exhibitions are booming and with more international exhibitors travelling worldwide – the demand for temporary exhibition staff to look after hospitality, receptions and sales on stands is increasing. I started Exhibition Girls seven years ago recognising the gap in the market for educated, bright, motivated exhibition staff to help exhibitors on their booths. We have grown into a multi-national company with offices in France and partners worldwide. We really love what we do daily in the industry and know that exhibitors would often simply not be able to exhibit without the extra man power of local multi-lingual exhibition staff to support them.
However in the UK – the event and exhibition staff industry is unregulated. There is zero barrier to entry, anyone can register a business name on Companies House, create a website, approach exhibitors and put freelancers with exhibitors on booths. With the majority of exhibition staff being students, young workers and creatives – staff are not likely to speak up when they aren’t paid or if an agency closes. In March 2016, HMRC introduced agency legislation which stated that staffing agencies should be paying staff as PAYE employers, removing false self employment and giving staff workers rights. The legilslation can be viewed here; https://www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/employment-status-manual/esm2012 It’s frustrating for us daily to be competing with countless ‘exhibition staff’ agencies supplying staff at high profile exhibitions who are not legally registered. Other agencies are even staffing in other countries and not paying local taxes in the countries in which they are hiring.
Not registering employees legally – is not only a security risk, but a safety risk if they are not holding public and employers liability insurance to protect the staff and public. In Europe by comparison, especially France – exhibition staff is closely regulated and organisers and venues run staffing checks to make sure staff hold correct visas. Organisers and venues also take responsibility for exhibitor staffing recognising it is a service that is required and recommend suppliers to their exhibitors. I honestly believe that the majority of international exhibitors who are simply searching on google for a staffing agency do not know the lack of regulation of event staffing in the UK.
Working with ESSA – we have been lucky enough to build working relationships with leading exhibition stand builders who now use us for all their clients exhibition staffing needs. However we really feel that organisers and venues need to be using ESSA members in their supplier handbooks and taking responsibility for the staff at their exhibitions. We have also written a few guidelines for all exhibitors should be asking the following questions when hiring staff;
• Is the agency registered for PAYE tax / HMRC state that any agency employing freelancers will be liable for any unpaid taxes and fines which can be passed onto the client.
• Does the agency hold full employers and public liability insurance? this is a legal requirement when employing staff – request insurance certificates to be sure.
• Is the agency a member of ESSA – the event supplier and services association – all exhibitors are covered by the ESSA bond and are recommended to only to work with suppliers who belong to the tradebody
Exhibition Girls Limited are the leading exhibition staffing agency for exhibitors, stand builders and organisers who require hospitality, reception, sales and promotional support for exhibitions. We have partners worldwide and offices across Europe, we are pro-regulation and legal staffing and have an excellent reputation for our staffing services internationally.