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”
- “Human Resources in Research” Logo - valid until 31st of December 2017
- 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 “HR Excellence in Research” logo gives public recognition to research institutions that have made progress in aligning their human resources policies with the principles defined in the “Charter & Code”. The institutions awarded the logo have the right to use it to highlight their commitment to the implementation of fair and transparent recruitment and evaluation of the performance of their researchers.
Listed below are the steps to follow for implementation of the logo (valid until 31st of December 2017):
- Internal analysis of the entity to apply for the Human Resources award, that aims to get to know the degree of alignment between the institutional strategy and the C&C principles.
- Action plan. Once the analysis has being carried out, the entity will develop its own Human Resources Strategy for Researchers through an Action Plan.
- HR award. The European Commission reviews this Action Plan in order to award this seal (LO MISMO) to the interested entity. After the approval, the institution publishes the Action Plan and it is fully qualified to use the so-called logo.
- Self-assessment. The institution carries out a new internal analysis no later than two years in order to check the fulfillment of the action plan proposed and designs a new and updated action plan.
- External Evaluation. The entity will be subjected to an external evaluation every 4 years, where it will be analyzed if the entity is fulfilling what it was planned and if the “HR Excellence in Research” logo is maintained.
Are you a Spanish institution that manages researchers and is interested in implementing the “HR Excellence in Research” logo?? Contact us!
Since the European Commission recommended the implementation of the Charter and Code in 2005, approximately 1,200 institutions from 35 European and non-European countries have declared their support and more than 200 institutions have obtained the “HR Excellence in Research” logo.
The ‘strengthened’ of the HRS4R process will be implemented as of 1 January 2017!
By the report “Shaping the future of the Human Resources Strategy for Researchers – HRS4R” written by the Expert Group to the European Commission (EC), it is proposed a revised process for Research Performing Organizations (RPOs) and Research Funding Organizations (RFOs) wishing to implement the Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R). The implementation will result in significant enhancement and strengthening of the HRS4R and the implementation of the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of researchers. The revised HRS4R implementation process describes a strengthened procedure of organizational implementation and review, moreover, organizations are required to reflect on and provide evidence of their ongoing development and improved quality.
The Document “Open, Transparent and Merit-Based Recruitment (OTM-R)” is a key component of the HRS4R process. The strengthened HRS4R process provides an OTMR toolkit as part of the revised Gap Analysis Template.
Indeed, the strengthened HRS4R introduce standardized templates for participating organizations and peer assessment panels to ensure the necessary information is captured.
The revised HRS4R articulates the conditions for maintaining and losing the HRS4R award. It provides clarity on what happens after the step 5 of the current HRS4R model: a cyclical approach of review, assessment and continuous progress towards improved quality.
I. Phases of the Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R) process
In the new HRS4R process it disappears the steps and it appears the phases. The new process has the following stages:
1. The Initial Phase: Endorsement of the C&C and Notification of Commitment.
Organizations must formally endorse the principles of the Charter and Code by notifying the EURAXESS Rights Team. Moreover, organizations must notify their intention to implement the HRS4R process.
This notification must issue from the Rector/President and send it to the European Commission by EURAXESS Team: RTD-CHARTER@ec.europa.eu
2. Implementation Phase: Gap Analysis, Publication and Submission of the Action Plan (within twelve months of the notification to implement the HRS4R process).
The European Commission provides two templates (Template 1 and Template 2) in order to work the Gap Analysis and Action Plan.
Within twelve months of the notification to implement the HRS4R process, a completed Gap Analysis and consequent Action Plan must be submitted to the EC for an initial assessment.
The initial assessment is based on the exercise carried out by the applicant organization to identify gaps between their current policies and practices versus the 40 principles of the Charter and Code.
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 organization’s website. Each application being assessed by 3 independent external experts (template A) leads to 3 individual assessment reports which will be summarized and synthesized by the lead assessor who fill template B which is used to give a sound feed-back to the applicant organization. Should discrepancies appear among the individual assessments the lead assessor will convene a “virtual” consensus meeting to come up with a sound consensus report for feed-back to the applicant organization.
Outcomes of the Assessment:
- Accepted: The organization meets the criteria and the HRS4R award is granted by the European Commission. Once awarded, organizations are allowed to publish the “HRS4R award” on their website.
- Accepted pending minor alterations: The organization broadly meets the criteria for the Award but the external Assessment Panel has some concerns/questions about specific areas/criteria, in which case the organization should reflect on the feedback, update the documentation and revert to the Commission, ideally, within 1 month.
- Declined pending (major) revisions: The organization does not meet the criteria and the granting of the Award is put on hold until the next submission deadline, so the organization can make the appropriate changes. When these are implemented and positively assessed under a new external assessment the Award is granted.
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 organization, progress and quality of the actions and accompanying measures are assessed.
This Interim assessment stage is two-fold:
The Internal Review is performed by the organization.
The External Assessment is carried out by the European Commission via the panel of peer reviewers.
5. The Award Renewal Phase (5 years after initial HRS4R award).
Five years after the initial HRS4R award, and three years after the Interim Internal Review and External Assessment, organizations 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 through desk based assessment, followed by a site visit.
A refusal external assessment will not be permitted to use of the HRS4R award. In this case, the organization can re-apply for a desk-based assessment and site visit after a minimum of 2 years based on a revised Gap Analysis and Action Plan.
The reviewers use the Template C.
6. Continuous improvement and enhanced quality and assessment Phases (a three yearly cycle of renewal).
For organizations that successfully complete the Award Renewal and Site Visit, the Award is renewed on a three year cycle.
Within three years of the most recent Award renewal, organizations must repeat the Internal Review of action and submit it to the Commission together with a renewed Acton Plan for the future with a view to an External Assessment and site visit (Template 3).
II. Elementos clave en el nuevo procedimiento
a) Introduction of a timeline/timeframe with fixed periods: period of maximum 12 months between endorsement/notification and submission of the application (fixed timeline of 12, 24 or 36 months for the different phases).
b) Incorporation of the OTM-R recommendations: Recommendations issued by the OTM-R working group in text and form of the established checklist are included in the whole process from the initial phase progressing towards the renewal phase. It is now mandatory for institutions starting the renewal cycle to have a fully compliant OTM-R policy in place.
c) Shorter procedure with less steps, now called phases.
d) Earlier internationalization (from the beginning): From the point of view that external evaluators from other countries will evaluate the Action Plan and the Gap Analysis.
e) Withdrawal of the award based on clear criteria setting.
f) Continuity element introduced based on enhancement of quality, not only on progress.
g) Introduction of elements of 'quality' (achievements or progress).
h) Strengthened assessment throughout the different phases: with the help of 6 NEW templates the strengthened process has been structured and harmonized while being strengthened.
i) Setting of indicators and targets for success: From the start-up institutions are required to set their appropriate indicators and targets for success.
j) Consultation as a MUST Previously, institutions were rather free to undertake their gap-analysis; the new procedure makes it mandatory to consult a certain number of key actors and to setup certain internal structures (working groups, committees or else) and associate certain target groups.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.