The goal of this section is to improve the researchers’ work and employment conditions, doing more attractive the researcher career in Europe. One of the cornerstones of EURAXESS Rights is the implementation of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. The Human Resources Strategy for Researchers supports the implementation of the "Charter & Code" principles and provides for the award of the 'HR Excellence in Research' logo.
Besides the topics related to the human resources management in research, this is the information found about the obligations needed as long as you are an Horizon 2020 beneficiary:
- Human Resources Strategy for Researchers “HRS4R”
- Procedure for implementing HUMAN RESOURCES STRATEGY FOR RESEARCHERS – HRS4R
- Pensions for Researchers
- Open hiring based on merits and being transparent (OTM-R)
- Article 32 fulfillment of grant agreements of H2020 projects
It encourages research institutions to implement the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers “Charter & Code” in their policies and practices. It also advises institutions and organisations to implement the “HR Excellence in Research” logo.
The European Charter for Researchers (Charter and Code) includes a series of principles that specify the rights and responsibilities of researchers and the entities that employ and/or finance them.
The Code of conduct for recruiting researchers contains a series of principles that must always be adhered to by employers and/or financing entities when they hire researchers.
These two documents are aimed both at researchers and employers and/or financing entities of the public and private sectors. The implementation of the Charter & Code principles increases the attractiveness of the European Research Area.
You can find more information at the Europe portal.
The Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R) supports research institutions and funding organisations in the implementation of the Charter & Code in their policies and practices. Its implementation will render these institutions more attractive to researchers looking for a new destination.
HRS4R culminates in the recognition of human resources excellence in research by the European Commission for institutions that have made progress in adapting their human resources policies to the principles set out in the Charter & Code. Acknowledged institutions have the right to use the logo on their websites and other communication channels and are listed here.
Since the 1st of January 2017, a new, more demanding procedure has been in place, in which institutions apply to the European Commission for this award. One of the key points of the procedure is that it places a lot of emphasis on the need for institutions to make progress towards the principles of Open, Transparent, Merit-based Recruitment.
The European Commission also provides a series of templates to ensure that all the information necessary is gathered by the institutions that implement the Strategy.
Below we set out the main stages and characteristics of this procedure. You can also visit the HRS4R section on the EU website.
I. Phases of the Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R) process
1. Initial Phase: Endorsement of the Charter & Code and notification of commitment
Organisations must formally endorse the principles of the Charter and Code and their intention to implement the HRS4R process by notifying the EURAXESS Rights Team.
This notification must be issued by the Rector/President and sent to the European Commission through the EURAXESS team: RTD-CHARTER@ec.europa.eu.
2. Implementation Phase: preparing a Gap Analysis and an Action Plan for human resources management
The European Commission provides two templates (Template 1 and Template 2) in order to work through the Gap Analysis and Action Plan for implementing the strategy. The initial assessment is based on the exercise carried out by the applicant organisation to identify gaps between its current policies and practices versus the 40 principles of the Charter and Code and the Action Plan (what actions the organisation will take). It is very important that all agents at the organisation (especially researchers) are involved in the process.
Within 12 months of the notification to implement the HRS4R process, a completed Gap Analysis and consequent Action Plan must be submitted to the European Commission (RTD-CHARTER@ec.europa.eu) for an initial assessment. Both documents, or a public version of them (confidential or internal information can be omitted), should be published on the institution’s website in a visible place that is accessible to the public.
3. Initial assessment by the European Commission via external assessment panel.
The European Commission establishes an External Assessment Panel which reviews the Gap Analysis and Action Plan as provided by e-mail and published on the organisation’s website. Each application is assessed by three independent external experts using template A, which they complete and sign. The lead assessor then fills in template B, which is sent to the applicant organisation. Should discrepancies appear among the individual assessments, the lead assessor will contact the three assessors to reach a consensus.
The outcomes of the assessments can be:
- Accepted: The organisation meets the criteria and the HRS4R award is granted by the European Commission. Once awarded, organisations are allowed to publish the “HRS4R award” logo on their website.
- Accepted pending minor alterations: The organisation can publish the “HRS4R award” and should work on the suggestions made for modification, ideally within one month.
- Declined pending major revisions: In this event, the institution should work on the comments made by the experts and resubmit the Gap Analysis and Action Plan at the next submission deadline one year later.
4. Interim Assessment: internal review and external assessment (2 years after the initial HRS4R award).
Two years after the initial HRS4R award is granted to an organisation, an interim assessment is conducted, which is twofold:
An internal review is performed by the organisation that has implemented the Strategy.
The External Assessment is carried out by the external experts hired by the European Commission.
The European Commission provides a template to the organisation to carry out this phase (Template 3).
5. Award Renewal Phase (5 years after initial HRS4R award).
Five years after the initial HRS4R award, and three years after the Interim Assessment, organisations must submit to the European Commission an internal review of how their Action Plan has progressed (Template 3).
This internal review is assessed by an external panel of expert peer reviewers appointed by the European Commission, followed by a site visit.
If the assessment is refused, the organisation can resubmit its Action Plan with the improvements included after a minimum of two years based on a revised Action Plan and Gap Analysis. Its Action Plan will then be reassessed and a further site visit planned.
The experts use Template C to assess the organisation in this phase.
6. Continuous improvement and enhanced quality and assessment phases (a three-yearly cycle of renewal)
Organisations whose awards are successfully renewed must repeat the internal review of their Action Plan and submit it to the Commission within three years in order that the external assessors can make an assessment as per the previous phase.
II. Key elements of the new procedure
a) Introduction of a timeline/timeframe with fixed periods:12 months maximum between notification of endorsement of the Charter & Code and submission of the Gap Analysis and Action Plan (24 and 36 months for the other phases).
b) Incorporation of the OTM-R system: criteria for implementing OTM-R are included in the Gap Analysis and Action Plan.
d) Earlier internationalisation: from the point of view that external assessors from other countries will assess the Action Plan and the Gap Analysis.
e) Withdrawal of the HRS4R award based on clear criteria.
f) Enhancement of quality, not only on progress: every three years an internal review and external assessment are performed.
g) Introduction of “quality” elements: from the beginning, the progress and quality of actions included in the Strategy are analysed.
h) Strengthened assessment throughout the different phases: a series of templates is provided for the different phases of the process. The OTM-R policies are included in the Gap Analysis, and the 40 principles of the Charter and Code reflected on. The Gap Analysis and Action Plan should be consistent with each other.
i) Implementing indicators and targets for success: organisations must provide indicators to observe to what extent the new actions taken to comply with the Charter and Code are being met.
j) Consulting key actors in the process: creating work groups, committees in which all key actors are involved (researchers of different levels, different departments, etc.).
You can download the templates here.
Researchers are highly qualified workers who are able to be very mobile. However, in relation to their mobility there are some gaps in their social security protection and the transfer of their pension rights. The European Commission wishes to solve this problem through RESAVER, a single pan-European pensions system.
Open, Transparent and Merit-based Recruitment of Researchers – OTM-R
What is it about?
The ‘OTM-R Package’ is a set of practical and useful tools for implementing Open, Transparent and Merit-based recruitment practices in Research Performing Organisations.
• The rationale: Why is OTM-R essential?
• The principles and guideline: What a good OTM-R system should look like?
• A checklist for institutions as a self-assessment tool: How do the current practices rate?
• The toolkit: A step by step guide to improve the OTM-R practices
• Examples of good practice
Why is it needed?
OTM-R ensures that the best person for the job is recruited, guarantees equal opportunities and access for all, facilitates developing an international portfolio (cooperation, competition, mobility) and makes research careers more attractive.
What is in it for me?
OTM-R brings benefits to researchers, institutions and the wider research system. More specifically, OTM-R makes research careers more attractive, ensures equal
opportunities for all candidates and facilitates mobility. Overall, it may contribute to an increase in the cost-effectiveness of investments in research!
- Report of the WORKING GROUP of the STEERING GROUP OF HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT.
- Checklist for Institutions.
WHAT DOES ARTICLE 32 AT HORIZON 2020 MODEL GRANT AGREEMENT IMPLY?
The article 32 of grant contracts within Horizon 2020: Hiring and work conditions for researchers.
Horizon 2020 (H2020) is the framework program established by the European Commission as a tool to finance research and innovation activities. The Grant Agreements are contracts signed between beneficiaries and the Commission. The signature of these contracts, will determine beneficiaries commitments. Here, you can check a commented “Grant Agreement”. The responsabilities, as a result of the management of human resources in research, will be covered in the AMGA article 32 under the title “Hiring and work conditions for researchers”. Particularly, this article shows beneficiaries must take necessary measures in order to implement the principles of the Letter for researchers and the Conduct Code to hire researchers, the so called Charter&Code, related topics are:
- Work conditions,
- Transparent and based merits recruitment processess,
- Researchers career development.
The article 32 in the frame of Marie-Slodowska Curie actions and specific conditions for hiring and work.
Marie-Slodowska Curie actions include a grant agreement with a modified article 32 in contrast to the rest of European projects. Responsibilities are of course lined up with the Charter&Code, but the article emphasizes the work contract, the supervision of the researcher, etc…You can check the article’s responsibilities in AMGA.
How does a H2020 beneficiary can fulfill with the article 32?
The most immediate way to fulfil with the article 32 is by the beneficiary institution getting the logo “Human Resources Excellence in Research”. As we further will describe, this logo is an acknowledgement of the European Commission to the institutions that have reported to be in the process to line up their policies with the Charter&Code principles. This process is made up of five steps. You can find information on this link.
It is important to highlight, the logo is one of the recognitions (if not the only one), for the institution to be able to show that has given the necessary steps to implement the Charter&Code principles. In other words, the institution can show with other documents the measures taken to “implement the principles of the Letter for Researchers and the Conduct Code to hire researchers”.
Which are the consequences of not obeying the article 32?
It is key to highlight the article 32 is one of those “best effort obligation” type of article, thus, beneficiaries must be “practical and must make the necessary decisions in order to sort out the possible conflicts may arise between their policies/practices and the principles outlined by the Charter &Code.
We remark this is an obligation for Project beneficiaries: under no circumstances,it is an evaluation criteria for the Horizon 2020 proposals.
The European Commission can verify whether the article 32 is being fulfilled via auditing, project reviews, audits and enquiries by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), where it could be requested to the H2020 grant beneficiary if the article 32 has been properly applied.
The beneficiary would not fulfill with the article 32 if one of the following cases arise:
- If the beneficiary does not take actions to implement the Chart&Code.
- If the beneficiary does not take actions to sort conflicts out between its policies and the Charter&Code principles.
- If the beneficiary does not fully has clarity of the recruitment and selection researcher policies.
- If the beneficiary does not publicly publishes the available job offers.
Some examples of the consequencies of not fulfilling the article 32 depending on the unfulfilment degree:
- Rejection of the given costs.
- Refusal of the maximum funding.
- Recuperation of non-justified amounts.
- Finance and Administrative fines.
- Project, contract of payments halt.
- Project or contract funding.
- End of beneficiary participaction.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In this section, we will treat frequently asked questions by the Spanish institutions regarding the fulfilling of the article 32. The answers to these questions are illustrative but you can it is always welcomed to check the ones that the European Commission prepares on its website. You can also send your own questions to email@example.com or get directly in touch with the European Commission via this form.
What type of documents must the beneficiaries keep in order to show they have fulfilled with the article 32? Can you provide an example of appropriate documentation required? Do the documents that need to be kept need to be only for H2020 related purposes researchers or for all the researchers in general?
The type of documentation that beneficiaries should keep are evidence of the posting of the job offer, recruitment and selection process criteria, work contract, payrolls evidence, proof of the type of work done during the project (lab journals, research publications, etc). As a proof of, researchers can keep their attendance to courses, training.
That applies to all the researchers and third parties in H2020.
Would the recruitment and hiring policy be published in the beneficiary's website and/or the EURAXESS Jobs portal web?
All the research vacancies and funding opportunities must be publicly announced or published. We encourage to all the beneficiaries to use International use of online platforms, such EURAXESS Jobs Portal, but publishing the job offer could be done in the legal entity’s website if that is the normal way of doing so.
Does the need of publishing researching job offers apply to all the H2020 projects or to all the researching vacancies of the institution?
We encourage employers and funding parties for researchers of around the world to support the Charter&Code, therefore to publish all the job or research offers in the EURAXESS web.
Publishing European Union projects' job offers that are linked to the "Grant Agreement" will be applied accoding to what it has been stablished in such contract.