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Member’s Tip: Open recruitment obligations

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In this the first of a new series in which we highlight a member’s tip, Nik Kellingley explains the implications of only advertising a vacancy internally, and whether it best protects the interests of the business.


If you are using public money to fund a post then you have to advertise the post and your existing member of staff has to apply for it – that’s a usual part of the terms and conditions for doing business with a public agency.

However, that doesn’t mean that your external campaign needs to be highly visible – unless you want it to be – it just has to happen. So an advert on your website that’s up for 24 hours with a closing date 24 hours later would be probably suffice as to being an “open” recruitment process.

But… you need to be careful in what you are trying to do. The job descriptions may be “almost identical” but they are not identical. You may also want to ask whether they are “almost identical” because it was written with protecting this individual’s job in mind.

If the individual is on a funded contract, then you should have employed them on a fixed term contract rather than a permanent one. Redundancy, then, should not be an issue.

If it is, then as long as the new job is at the same time or after her current contract, you may be obliged to offer her the job if it is substantively the same level of post etc.

But if the new post starts now and the other does not expire until December then I think you are on dodgy ground.

This isn’t then about redundancy – she isn’t until next year – it’s about job protection for someone you like (which is a good thing morally for the individual but not necessarily for your organisation).

The reason your local authority gave you the money in the first place will be linked to a strategy for job creation – that’s why they want you to advertise the role round and about, they also want to ensure that you hire the best person for the job that they have funded, not that you have hired someone hired to do a different job because you didn’t put them on a fixed term contract in the first place.

There is nothing to stop you from doing what’s been asked and advertising the post and interviewing in a fair and transparent manner, and if the person you have in mind is really the best person for the job, they’ll get it anyway.

If not, you may need to ask yourself why do you want to hire someone who is not the best person for the job? Unless the redundancy pay out will be huge (and I suspect it won’t as they’re in a funded post – which has probably only run for two or three years) then you may be damaging your organisation rather than protecting it.

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