I am pleased to present to Scottish health and social care employers the revised Scottish Code of Practice for the International Recruitment of Health and Social Care Personnel.
We have all been humbled by the dedication and sacrifices made by health and care workers across the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NHS Scotland benefits enormously from the contribution made by healthcare staff from across the world who come to train and work here. But equally, we recognise how important it is to ensure that recruiting staff to our own health and social care services does not disadvantage those same services in lower income countries.
We place great importance on Scotland being a good global citizen. The World Health Organization's (WHO) Global Code of Practice is the universal ethical framework that links the international recruitment of health workers with the strengthening of health systems. By publishing a Code of Practice that aligns our own recruitment principles and practices with that framework, we are demonstrating Scotland's continuing commitment to ethical recruitment and protecting and supporting the health and care systems of lower income countries. We are not actively recruiting from those countries the WHO recognise as having the most pressing health and care workforce related challenges.
When we published the Scottish Code of Practice in February 2021, we committed to doing regular updates. Working with the UK Government in this revised edition you will see that we have responded to concerns that have arisen over the last year and:
- Strengthened the best practice benchmarks to ensure fairness and consistency in employment contracts and set out principles on the use of repayment clauses in employment contracts.
- Set out the routes of escalation for concerns about exploitative recruitment or employment practices and breaches of the code.
- Provided more clarity on how the code applies to different international recruitment models.
- Introduced a knowledge test for recruiting organisations applying to be on the Ethical Recruiters List; and
- Expanded the scenario examples.
We welcome these updates to respond to emerging issues of concern to ensure that we maintain the highest ethical standards in all international recruitment activity undertaken.
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care
"Active International Recruitment"
For the purpose of this Code of Practice 'active international recruitment' is defined as the process by which health and social care employers (including local authorities),contracting bodies, recruitment organisations agencies, collaborations and sub-contractors target individuals, either physically or virtually, to market Scottish employment opportunities, with the intention of recruiting to a role in the Scottish health or social care sector, whether or not it leads to substantive employment. This can include, but is not limited to, advertising to candidates through all types of communication mediums, incentivisation activities such as referral bonus schemes, and referring candidates to specific vacancies in Scotland in return for a fee from the employing organisation. It is illegal under section 6(1) of the Employment Agencies Act 1973 for recruitment organisations of any type to charge fees to the individual applicant for job finding services.
The only exception to this definition is where a candidate has already been appointed by a Scottish employer following an independent direct application and selection without the support of a recruitment organisation agency or collaboration, as defined below. In this case, if required, these organisations can support and facilitate the employee's passage to the UK. In such cases, it is the responsibility of the recruitment organisation, agency or collaboration, if challenged, to evidence that the services they are providing are permitted under this exception.
For the purpose of this code of practice, a 'direct application' is when an individual makes an application directly and on their own behalf to an employing organisation and not using a third party, such as a recruitment organisation, agency or collaboration. Individual health and social care employers may consider direct applications from individuals' resident in countries on the 'World Health Organization (WHO) Safeguard List, 2020' below, (red country list) if they have made a direct application to a vacancy at their organisation. A direct application can only be made in response to a vacancy which is hosted by, and recruited to, the same sponsoring organisation.
For the purpose of this code of practice, 'resident' refers to the country an individual is living in when they apply for a health or social care job. The rules on active recruitment and direct applications are based on the country within which an individual is resident when they apply for health or social care job, rather than the nationality of the individual or their original country of training.
For the purpose of this code of practice, the term employment agency or employment agencies is used to describe a business that recruits candidates for vacant positions (permanent or temporary), for health and social care employers in need of personnel. This includes the statutory definition set out in section 13(2) of the Employment Agencies Act 1973 as "a business (whether or not carried out with a view to profit and whether or not carried out in conjunction with any other business) providing services (whether by the provision of information or otherwise) for the purpose of finding workers employment with employers with employers or of supplying employers with workers for employment by them.
For the purpose of this code of practice, a recruitment organisation is an organisation that recruits candidates for vacant positions (permanent or temporary) on behalf of a health or social care employer whether or not it is on a commercial basis. Recruitment organisations come under the statutory definition set out in the Employment Agencies Act 1973.
For the purpose of this code of practice, a recruitment collaboration or 'collaboration' is a group of organisations which have partnered together to pool resources into a central system to recruit candidates for vacant positions within that collaboration, whether or not it is on a commercial basis. Collaborations also come under the statutory definition of 'employment agency' set out in the Employment Agencies Act 1973 for employment agency.
For the purpose of this code of practice, employer means the person or organisation by whom an employee or worker is (or, where the employment has ceased, was) employed.
For the purpose of this code of practice, contracting bodies are health or social care providers which contract with health and social care personnel to provide a service, rather than employing them directly.
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