The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has unveiled a revised "Code of professional conduct", along with updated complaints and disciplinary procedures.
The new code - based on consultation with the profession and drawn up by a steering group including senior members of the profession and experts on codes of professional conduct - will come into force for all CIPD members on 1 July 2012.
Replacing the existing "Code of professional conduct", which remains in place until 30 June 2012, the new code sets out member requirements under four key areas:
- Professional competence and behaviour.
- Ethical standards and integrity.
- Representative of the profession.
Vicky Wright, chair of the CIPD's nominations and professional conduct committee, said: "The CIPD promotes high standards of behaviour and practice in the HR profession. This is critical given the powerful role of HR in ensuring organisations have the trust, integrity and capability to deliver not just success today, but sustainable performance for the future.
"Public expectations of the behaviour of professionals are rising and it is vital that the CIPD demonstrates its members are subject to a strong 'Code of professional conduct' and that complaints regarding the conduct of its members are taken seriously and can lead to appropriate penalties."
The CIPD board has also agreed to new complaints and disciplinary arrangements. These arrangements will now comprise of two distinct phases with their own specialist panels, resulting in greater ownership of the investigation process by CIPD members and a wider group of professionals being able to hear disciplinary cases. The institute is now calling on members interested in sitting on these panels to volunteer.
Wright continued: "Our new 'Code of professional conduct' is an evolution of our existing code. But it also marks a raising of the bar in terms of the maintenance and enforcement of clear, simple, rigorous standards in HR professional practice.
"Our new complaints and disciplinary procedures are crucial to ensuring that the CIPD has the tools and capacity to maintain and uphold the highest standards in HR practice by its members. Designed by the profession, and with responsibility for investigating and adjudicating complaints resting firmly with the institute and a qualified body of professionals, this represents the establishment of modern, best practice self-regulation for the HR profession, and for the greater good."
Under the new procedures, any valid complaint regarding an alleged breach of the "Code of professional conduct" will first be investigated by an investigation panel of CIPD members, selected from a pool with the necessary experience, capabilities and training for the task. Where the investigation panel determines that there is sufficient evidence of a breach of the code, the case will be referred to a hearing by a formal disciplinary panel consisting of appropriately experienced and trained professionals, including CIPD members drawn from a "disciplinary pool".
The CIPD's code of conduct hit the headlines in 2010 when HR professionals called on the institute to investigate the head of the National Bullying Helpline, Christine Pratt, after she went public about alleged bullying accusations made by Number 10 staff, under Gordon Brown's Government.
The CIPD is calling for members interested in putting themselves forward as candidates to join the new pools of investigators and disciplinary panel members to visit the CIPD website for more information and to apply for the new volunteer roles.
The revised code can be accessed on the CIPD website.