A hiring hall is an organization that is charged with the responsibility of providing workers to employers when and as needed. In most situations, this type of organization is connected with organized labor, and functions under the direction of a labor union. Any employer who has what is known as a collective bargaining agreement with the union can call upon the hiring hall to fill vacancies with workers that the union has screened and certified as capable of filling the open position. Depending on the terms of the agreement, an employer may utilize the hall on a voluntary basis, or be required to use the hall exclusively to fill open positions.
In situations where the collective bargaining agreement calls for the mandatory use of the hiring hall, this establishes a situation that is known as a closed shop. The employer does not have the option of seeking employees from another source, and must choose from among the labor provided by the hall. Promoters of the closed shop see this approach as a means of ensuring that qualified employees are readily available. Detractors of the arrangement note that this creates a situation in which employers cannot hire anyone not associated with the hiring hall, even if that individual happens to be more qualified than any of the labor provided by the hall.
Labor laws that govern the function of the hiring hall will vary from one country to the next. Some nations, such as the United States, do not allow closed shops, an arrangement that allows employers to enjoy the benefits of using a hiring hall while avoiding the possibility of being limited in its ability to select qualified employees. There are nations, such as Canada, where labor laws vary from one province or region to the next. In this situation, closed shops may exist in one area of the country, and be non-existent in another area of that same country.
At its best, a hiring hall is an excellent way for employers to find qualified employees in a short period of time, a benefit that often helps to lessen the expenses associated with training new employees. When the function of the hall is less efficient, using this means of securing new employees can be detrimental to employers, since the employees obtained through the hall may meet minimum qualifications but offer little else in the way of benefit to the employer. For this reason, it is important to investigate the reputation of a hall before relying on it to provide the caliber of employees desired.