Human resources staff

Human resources (HR) make sure that our colleagues both on the frontline and behind the scenes are fully supported and able to do their jobs.  

Working life

You'll manage all issues relating to the employment of your NHS colleagues. This could involve:

  • the recruitment of staff
  • introducing new employment policies
  • being an expert in employment law (equality and diversity, right to work, working hours, etc)
  • working closely with health unions and professional bodies
  • keeping up to date records on colleagues

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 administration staff. 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.

Entry requirements 

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

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.

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