New national security vetting code of practice

Monday 13 October 2014

A new code of practice to make sure security vetting requirements are applied fairly across the recruitment supply chain has been published by the Cabinet Office.

This new code of practice is intended to make securing jobs in the public sector easier for limited company contractors, umbrella company contractors and self employed professionals.

In the past, these groups have felt as though they were at a disadvantage because they needed security clearance before they could be put forward for positions but were unable to do so before they got a firm offer.

The new code was created in response to the changes to national security vetting that the Government outlined in 2010. it said that no one should be expected to hold an existing security clearance to apply for a sensitive post.

It calls for an independent forum of stakeholders in the recruitment process to make sure vetting guidelines are followed.

The code was developed by freelancer groups, such as APSCo, as part of the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) Security Clearance Forum.

IPSE director of policy and external affairs Simon McVicker said: “Due to the hard work of the Security Clearance Forum, we now have a code of practice that goes a long way to ensuring a level playing field for all contractors. IPSE will continue to closely monitor client and agency behaviour to ensure the code is adhered to and we will be working closely with the Forum to guarantee action is taken against any misconduct that takes place in the future.”

Under the new code of practice, there is information on what the government and recruitment industry must do to ensure vetting requirements are applied fairly so that candidates do not miss out on employment opportunities as they do now have existing security clearance at the application stage.

Should they pledge their commitment to the code, there are a set of regulations that stakeholder groups in the recruitment supply chain must follow. For recruitment firms, this includes the rule not to shortlist applicants based on existing clearance or pre-conception of what clearance involves, to explain what level of security clearance is needed if required when advertising vacancies and to make it clear that candidates will be considered if they have no security clearance.

Recruitment firms must only take existing clearance into consideration where the exception is justifiable and must help clients and candidates to provide information needed to ensure clearance is granted or transferred.

A spokesperson from the Cabinet Office stated: "All recruiters are expected to abide by the code of practice and ensure that individuals are not unfairly excluded from employment.”

The spokesperson stressed the importance of applying security vetting controls fairly and proportionately. What's more, they reiterated that is is important for job opportunities not to be limited because existing security clearance is needed as part of the selection criteria.

The adoption of the new code of practice was welcomed by APSCo, where head of external affairs Samantha Hurley urged members who place individuals in sensitive roles to pledge support for it.

By Victoria McDonnell

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