New code sets out recruiters’ responsibilities

Does this conversation sound familiar?

Mum: “How’s your training going?”

Me: “I’m starting a new job next week.”

Mum: “Where’s that, then?”

Me: “Well, I’m not exactly sure.”

Mum: “Are they giving you a pay rise?”

Me: “I don’t know yet.”

Mum: “Dear me. Well, can you come home for dinner next Saturday?”

Me: “I’ll have to get back to you, as I haven’t had my rota yet.”

Mum: “You don’t know very much, do you dear?”

Recruiters have got away with vague job adverts and woolly offers for far too long. It is not just an inconvenience. The lack of proper information can lead to a huge amount of stress and anxiety – try arranging childcare when you don’t know in what hospital you will be working or details of your rota.

In 2008, the BMA decided to challenge the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, an organisation that regulates employment agencies, to find out whether deaneries were employment agencies in the eyes of the law. If they were, deaneries would have to supply all these basic details about their jobs before we actually start.

The EASI confirmed that postgraduate medical deaneries are employment agencies. Great news, we thought, but sadly in May 2009, the Department of Business and Skills moved to exempt junior doctors from the protections of the employment agency regulations.

But the issue did not go away. The BMA responded strongly to this consultation stating that deaneries should not be exempted. As a result of this response we managed to kick-start talks on the development of a code of practice to nail down the basic level of information required for junior doctors when applying for training programmes.

This code of practice has now been published. It currently applies to postgraduate medical recruitment in England and Wales only. Negotiations are ongoing in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The code sets out the responsibilities of recruiting organisations, telling them what information should be included at each stage of the process, from job adverts through to offers of employment.

The code of practice should put an end to junior doctors being kept in the dark when moving jobs. But given the winding road we have gone down to get what are pretty basic rights, it is worth reading the code of practice yourself, should you receive a hazily-written job offer in the future.

Of course, if you actually didn’t want to go round to your Mum’s for dinner, you’ve just lost your best excuse.

Read the code of practice.

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