Civil Service Commission

Recruitment Principles

The Recruitment Principles 2015 (April) explain the legal requirement that selection for appointment to the Civil Service must be on merit on the basis of fair and open competition. They also:

  • Set out the circumstances in which appointments can be made as exceptions to this requirement; and
  • Describe the responsibilities of departments and agencies in meeting this requirement.

The current version of the Recruitment Principles came into operation on Wednesday 1 April 2015. 

Recruitment Principles 2014 (December) were in effect from 1 December 2014 to 31 March 2015.  The only difference between the Recruitment Principles 2015 (April) and the Recruitment Principles 2014 (December) is a clarification in footnote 15.

Recruitment Principles 2014 (April) were in effect from 1 April 2014 to 30 November to 2014. The only substantive differences between the 2014 (April) and 2014 (December) versions of the Recruitment Principles relate to Permanent Secretary level appointments.

The Commission ran a major public consultation in early 2014.  The outcome of this informed the current text (with the one significant change since then relating to the appointment of Permanent Secretaries)

If you need to ask the Commission’s approval to use an exception to the Recruitment Principles 2015 please use the Exception Forms.

Departments and agencies are free to develop their own approaches to recruitment as long as they are consistent with the Recruitment Principles.

The Recruitment Principles are not a guide to everything required to carry out recruitment; such as pre-appointment checks on nationality, health or qualifications, or the implications of employment law.  It is for departments and agencies to handle the recruitment and subsequent employment of staff in a way that complies both with the Recruitment Principles and with employment law.


The Civil Service Commission is committed to the principle of appointment on merit.

We believe a diverse workforce, appointed on merit through a fair and transparent process, greatly enhances effectiveness and performance by better reflecting the aspirations, experiences and needs of the people they serve.

The Civil Service Commission therefore promotes and supports efforts to get the best candidates drawn from a strong and diverse field.