Requirements for open job advertisement by universities in the UK?
March 2, 2014 5:27 AM   Subscribe

I have been told that publicly funded Universities in the UK are bound by certain requirements when they want to hire for a position: for instance, that the job be advertised for a certain amount of time, and the competition be open and on the merits of the candidates. What *exactly* are these requirements, and where can I read about them? I'm thinking specifically of Lecturer-type posts, if that makes any difference.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike to Law & Government (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The specific requirements of UK university posts vary by post and funding body. Not necessarily open, some will be limited to EU applicants and others will allow non-EU applicants but there is a complex point system which was introduced in 2008 and which gets messed around with pretty regularly. The UKBA calculator. I would expect Lecturer posts to be affected by both this and the RLMT below.

The Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) sets out the requirements for advertising locations and required periods for advertising based on what positions are being recruited - these are general not academia specific, though they certainly apply to academia and I would guess are what you were told about. A post requiring an RLMT will have to be advertised for a minimum 4 weeks, though apparently these do not need to be consecutive. Putting an ad somewhere like would tick this box.

I would advise you to google the name of some key UK institutions along with 'hr' or 'recruitment' or similar terms and see if they have left their guidance open.

The UK also has very tight rules about what you can require in job specs and adverts, relating to the protection of minorities on grounds of age, gender, sexuality etc. If you are on the advertising side rather than the applicant side don't do anything before talking to your institution's HR team.
posted by biffa at 6:00 AM on March 2, 2014

Perhaps I should clarify. What laws constrain employers from simply hiring an internal candidate without advertising a position, or from having a sham advertisement in order to hire their internal candidate?
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 6:10 AM on March 2, 2014

No laws prevent a uk company or institution from hiring an internal candidate, so there would be no real need to run a sham job search to do so. In fact there are specific laws protecting staff on fixed term contracts which give them the right to ask to be considered for suitable vacancies opening as their contracts end: so for a lectureship, if a suitable post-doc existed they could simply be offered the post. The major risk of not running a search is being sued by a potential candidate under equality/discrimination law, if they can make a case they they have been unfairly disadvantaged by not being given the opportunity to apply.

The only time an advert is compulsory is if you are trying to hire from outside the EU, in which case you have to run a full search to prove that you could not recruit someone with the same skill set from within the EU. There are laws then relating to this hire and its conditions, which stem from Immigration, rather than employment law.

In terms of your original question about the advert and its time period: from a recent experience in uk higher ed we had to let it run for at least 4 weeks to comply with immigration in case we got a foreign candidate, and be very careful with our wording under the equality act. In terms of short listing there are also some rules about positive discrimination for people with disabilities, but it doesn't sound like that's relevant to the question?

If a Uni has gone to the effort and expense of running a search, with adverts and interviews, I would assume they genuinely thought someone could be better than their internal candidate, or they hoped external advertising would broaden their diversity.
posted by AFII at 6:58 AM on March 2, 2014

Under what laws could they be sued by a potential candidate under equality/discrimination law, and does that only apply to protected characteristics?
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 12:20 PM on March 2, 2014

Yes, it only applies to protected characteristics, and the most recent legislation is the Equality Act 2010. (Of course, if the applicant is a foreign national, this is modified by our immigration law, which means that an equally qualified UK or EU applicant must have preference over an overseas candidate, regardless of equality issues).

There's some basic info from ACAS here (bear in mind that ACAS consider it 'best practice' to consider retraining an existing employee first before conducting an external search).
posted by AFII at 12:19 AM on March 3, 2014

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