Human resources staff
Human resources (HR) staff deal with all issues relating to the employment of NHS staff, both clinical and non-clinical.
This page has information on the role of HR staff in the NHS, including entry requirements and skills needed.
As a member of HR staff, you
- are involved in recruiting and dismissing staff
- introduce new local and national employment policies
- are an expert in employment law (equality and diversity, right to work, working hours, etc)
- work closely with health unions and professional bodies
- keep up to date records on all staff
You also advise and support managers in dealing with, for example
- managing performance – making sure staff are doing their jobs as they should
- disciplinary – dealing with staff who do something wrong
- absence – including holiday leave, sick leave, study leave or compassionate leave
HR staff work at different levels so job titles vary, for example
- human resource assistant or recruitment assistant
- HR officer or HR administrator
- senior HR adviser
- HR manager
- assistant HR director
Where will I work?
HR staff are based in human resource departments at hospitals and in headquarters buildings.
Who will I work with?
You'll work closely with admin staff and others in the wider healthcare team. You may also work with clinical and non-clinical managers (eg those managing estates and facilities, finance and operational areas). You would not usually have contact with patients.
There are no set entry requirements for HR staff. Entry requirements vary depending on what level you join the NHS.
To enter as an HR trainee, you usually need at least two GCSEs including English and maths, or equivalent. Employers may ask for some customer service or office experience. Apprenticeships are often available in admin roles within HR departments.
You could also become a member of NHS HR staff by studying for a qualification in HR and then applying to join an NHS trust. Relevant qualifications include
- Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) level-3 Foundation Certificate or Diploma in Human Resources Practice, which you can study part time
- a degree in human resources management
Degree courses are three or four years full time. To get onto a degree course you usually need:
- two or three A levels along with up to five GCSEs (grades A-C), including English and maths
or alternative qualifications, including
- BTEC, HND or HNC
- relevant NVQ
- access course
- equivalent Scottish or Irish qualifications
However, each institution sets its own entry requirements, so it’s important to check carefully.
Personal characteristics and skills needed
HR staff need to be
- interested in people
- interested in applying the law
- happy to work with people at all levels of an organisation
- willing to deal with strong emotions
- able to stay calm in challenging situations
You'll also need
- very good communication skills at all levels
- good negotiating skills
Training and development
When you start the job, you will be given the training you need including an introduction to the department and its systems and procedures. You will be expected to keep your knowledge and skills up to date. Your employer may offer you the chance to go on short courses on particular topics such as employment law, negotiating or managing absence.
You could take further qualifications such as those offered by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
HR staff can become members of Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). With experience and qualifications, they can apply for chartered status. As well as training, CIPD offers conferences, online communities and events where members can update their skills and knowledge and network with others in the field.
Pay and conditions
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HR staff working in the NHS are paid on the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. You will typically start on AfC band 2 or 3 in an administrative or support role. With further training and experience, you could apply for more senior positions at bands 4-6. Senior HR managers will earn more.
HR staff in the NHS work standard hours of around 37.5 a week. In some jobs, this could involve early starts, evenings and weekends to meet clinical staff on duty.
Terms and conditions will usually be different for HR staff working outside of the NHS.
Where the role can lead
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With experience, HR staff can become team leaders, supervising the work of others. They can then progress to become managers, responsible for an HR department or directors of HR.
There may also be opportunities to work outside the NHS, including overseas.
Job market and vacancies
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The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has job ads on its website.
If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services, you'll be asked to show how you think the NHS values apply in your everyday work.
Opportunities in HR exist in other health organisations
- opportunities in the Civil Service can be found on the Civil Service Jobs website
- vacancies in local government can be found on the Local Government Jobs website and the Jobs Go Public website
- vacancies for apprenticeships appear on the Gov.uk website
- vacancies for traineeships appear on the Gov.uk website
As well as these sources, you may find suitable vacancies in the health sector by contacting local employers directly, searching in local newspapers and by using the Universal Jobmatch tool.
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