FAQs

1. When does the Department notify the Commissioner of an extension?

The first point to make is that paragraph 4.1 of the Code of Practice states that extensions are “in exceptional circumstances and for a short period”.

The Commissioner should be notified of the Minister’s intention to extend an appointment as soon as the Minister decides and before any public announcement is made.
 

2. What information does the Department need to send to the Commissioner?

  • Name of the Organisation
  • Title of extended appointment
  • Length of extension
  • Reason for extension and indication of proposed subsequent arrangements

3. Can a candidate apply for a third term if they have served less than 10 years?

Paragraph 4.6 of the Code applies. The overriding rule is that “appointments for the same position are restricted to 2 terms”.

4. What information does CPA NI require when a Department requests an Independent Assessor?

  • CPA NI requires the Department to provide
  • The name of the board
  • The title and number of positions
  • Projected dates of the Independent Assessor’s involvement in drafting of documentation, short-listing and interviewing
  • Confirmation of whether the competition is regulated or unregulated

5. When should feedback be provided to a candidate?

Feedback should be provided promptly. Departments should not wait until the end of a competition. For example, feedback on short-listing could result in a review of a decision made on a candidate’s suitability for interview and the subsequent reversal of a negative decision.

6. What are the procedures regarding the use of a reserve list?

The creation of a reserve list of candidates following the completion of an appointment process is a standard occurrence in public appointments. The purpose of such a list is to provide an immediate pool of appointable candidates from which a  Minister can choose where (1) a vacancy arises in the organisation within one year of the original competition and (2) where the vacant post is the same and has the same requirements as that originally campaigned.

A public appointments process can be a resource intensive process for Departments and accordingly  the utilisation of a reserve list can be an effective use of public resources. Where a reserve list has been created and a vacancy in the organisation arises which conforms with criteria 1 and 2 above then it is a prudent use of public resources to appoint a candidate from the reserve list.

Where criteria 1 and 2 are fulfilled and a Minister decides not to appoint from the reserve list his/her rationale should be articulated as part of the decision making process  (in the same way as required where a Minister decides not to appoint anyone from an original list of suitable candidates). This rationale will provide the Department with the information necessary to provide a response where requested by a candidate under  paragraph 3.44 of the Code (a candidate's right to receive meaningful feedback on why he/she was not appointed).

This process applies equally where the Minister who created the reserve list is not the Minister who decides whether to appoint from the reserve list.

7. Does the establishment of a reserve list need to be mentioned in the Press Release?

No, this is not a requirement of the Code.
 

8. In Press Releases, Departments must announce what other public appointments are held by appointees. If an appointee holds no other public appointments, should the Press Release say this?

Yes.  For clarity, and to demonstrate that the Department has covered the issue, the Press Release should say that the appointee being announced to the public does not hold any other public appointments.
 

9. When assessing application forms at sifting or shortlisting stage

Yes, the practice of 'read-across' has been common in public appointment competitions for some time and it is referred to in the Code at paragraph 3.27, where it says, 'Selection must be based on merit i.e. how an applicant's skills, knowledge, experience and other qualities, as displayed throughout the application form, meet the criteria'.

10. In addition to the Commissioner's Code, what other requirements are there on Ministers and their Departments with respect to equality and discrimination?

Ministers and their Departments, whose focus will be on achieving the best mix of skills and experience required for the Board to function effectively, must not unlawfully discriminate against any applicant for a public appointment.

As stated in paragraph 3.44 of the Code, when the Minister has made the decisions on which candidate[s] to appoint, the reasons for those decisions must be recorded. This record should be clear on the reasons and in sufficient detail that will assist Ministers and their Departments in answering potential challenges to appointment decisions.

When a Department is under a statutory duty to secure, as far as possible, that a Board is representative [or reflective] of the Community, it must not discriminate unlawfully when fulfilling this duty.

There is a considerable body of laws and guidance with which Departments should be familiar in order to discharge their responsibilities with respect to anti-discrimination good-practice. The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has supplied a list of:

The key anti-discrimination laws,

  • The anti-discrimination grounds,  
  • Statutory Codes of Practice relevant to recruitment and selection, and
  • Other relevant Equality Commission guides.

You may access the list on the anti-discrimination laws and guidance page.

11. Can a candidate appeal a decision not to invite him or her for interview?

Whilst a candidate has no right of appeal against a decision not to invite them for interview, it is a requirement of the Code of Practice that Departments must have a clear procedure in place for reviewing or re-assessing such a decision if it is contested or challenged by a candidate.