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Catch22 on security clearance for freelancers
by Susie Hughes at 05:26 18/04/09 (Press)
Security clearance as a prerequisite is proving a discriminatory obstacle for freelancers seeking work in the public sector, according to an article in the Times.
It says that the problem is particuarly acute in the IT sector, where security clearance is often required for Government work. Recruitment agencies are telling potential candidates that they will not interview them if they have not yet obtained security clearance.

It reports of a Catch22-style situation where candidates are told they need security clearance in order to be accepted for an appointment, but cannot obtain clearance until they have a public sector appointment.

According to the Times, Shadow Cabinet Minister, Francis Maude, contacted the Government on behalf of a constituent. A reply from Tom Watson, a Cabinet Office Minister responsible for Civil Service issues, stated that officials were aware that 'advertisements sometimes appear, particularly from recruitment agencies, which stipulate that a security clearance is a requirement'.

The advertisements appear despite Cabinet Office guidance that 'an existing security clearance should not be specified as a prerequisite for recruitment, except in certain circumstances'.

Mr Watson’s letter continued: “Consequently, it is potentially discriminatory and could breach procurement rules for agencies to advertise for staff or contractors already holding security vetting clearance unless such a requirement can be objectively justified, for example, if the employer is able to demonstrate that a contract is of sufficient urgency or of a very short duration.”

The Government said that firm steps were being taken to address the problem of recruitment agencies who did not comply with the rules. But comments to the Times indicate that applicants for Government contracts or jobs are still facing problems in this area.

Full article: Private sector workers excluded from government jobs by lack of security clearance - Times, April 2009

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Susie Hughes - Shout99 2009

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