Government seeks HR lead for special advisers

Dominic Cummings, the prime minister's chief adviser. Photo: Will Oliver/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The Cabinet Office is recruiting an HR policy lead for special advisers following reports of friction between Downing Street and the civil service around the recruitment and treatment of staff.

It follows calls last month by Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s most senior adviser, for the government to recruit “weirdos and misfits”.

Newly appointed “superforecaster” Andrew Sabisky resigned last week after it emerged that he had previously suggested enforced contraception and that black people are mentally inferior. It is claimed that Sabisky was not security vetted but still attended meetings with the prime minister.

“This is a high profile and stretching role balancing policy development, technical knowledge, strong judgement and stakeholder management,” reads the job advertisement.

The new HR role comes after Cummings warned special advisers that they had a “tough” job and that anyone suffering from stress or a personal crisis should leave.

The “band A, grade 6-7” civil service position, which has a salary of £52,500 to £60,635, will play a “key role” in establishing the cross-government special adviser HR function, scoping change and innovations and providing expert advice and guidance in a unique business area.

It sits in the Proprietary and Ethics Team, reports into the head of policy and operations, and as part of the Cabinet Office, includes a commitment to “treat everyone with respect”.

A Downing Street source told the BBC that arrangements for special advisers or “spads” had been undergoing change for some time, adding: “This is not new”.

Last August, one of former chancellor Sajid Javid’s aides, Sonia Khan, was sacked and escorted from Downing Street by police, amid accusations she was passing information to Javid’s predecessor Philip Hammond. Javid was not consulted.

Earlier this month Khan filed an unfair dismissal claim against Downing Street for her treatment.

The successful candidate’s responsibilities include:

  • Revising and embedding a full suite of HR policies, processes and principles ensuring they are fit for purpose
  • Supporting the operation of the code of conduct for special advisers and related policy
  • Managing complex and sensitive employee relations cases and providing advice to senior leaders, ensuring legislation/process is followed and liaising with legal advisers when needed, and
  • Driving continuous improvements in the running of the special adviser HR team

Candidates need to have CIPD membership and have until 11:55pm on Wednesday 26 February to apply.

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