Introduction to the Code
Explanation of terms used in the Code
Section 1: Standards required from all providers of career and outplacement services
Section 2: Additional standards required from the providers of sponsored career and outplacement services
Section 3: Additional standards required from the providers of private and outplacement services
Making a complaint
Proteus is committed to the provision of career management and outplacement services to the highest possible professional standard, in order to facilitate, enable, empower and enhance the career development of its clients.
INTRODUCTION TO THE CODE The Code of Practice has been developed over many years and is regularly reviewed to ensure it is relevant and promotes best practice within the provision of career and outplacement services. All Proteus career consultants have agreed to abide by the provisions of the Code of Practice and have agreed to co-operate with the complaints procedure. In addition, all Proteus consultants have agreed to provide their clients with a copy of the Code of Practice and inform them how and to whom they should complain if they feel the standard of service they receive does not match that detailed in this Code.
BREAKDOWN OF THE CODE
Proteus recognises that career and outplacement services can be divided into:
Sponsored services – where the client is an organisation paying for services provided to an individual or group of individuals;
Private services – where services are provided to clients as individuals paying for the services they personally receive.
This Code is intended to address both types of activity and therefore contains three sections:
Section 1 refers to activities and standards which are common to both sponsored and private career and outplacement services.
Section 2 refers specifically to the additional standards required from those providing sponsored career and outplacement services.
Section 3 refers specifically to the additional standards required from those providing private career and outplacement services.
EXPLANATION OF TERMS USED IN THE CODE
Some of the terminology used in the career and outplacement industry can be confusing. To ensure clarity in this area and to avoid misunderstandings, a glossary of the terms used in this Code is provided below.
The terminology used to describe services delivered by career and outplacement consultants has evolved over the last few years as the industry has grown and advanced. Therefore, throughout this Code, the term ‘career and outplacement services’ is understood to include career management, career planning, career development, career coaching, career mentoring, career counselling, outplacement services etc, depending on which term a consultant chooses to use to describe their approach.
TERM DESCRIPTION OF MEANING
Career and outplacement services: Activities designed to enable individuals to develop a greater awareness of their capacities, potential, skills and limitations, to help them to pursue the career opportunities open to them and to manage the transition through a career change, a job change or into re-employment following the loss of a job.
Career and outplacement consultants: Individuals engaged in providing career and/or outplacement
services in return for fees.
Career and outplacement consultancy: Organisations providing career and/or outplacement services. Consultancies must ensure their consultants adhere to the provisions of this Code.
Clients: Organisations or individuals paying for services and with whom a written contract exists.
Individuals: Those receiving services.
Private services: Where services are provided to clients as individuals paying for the services they personally receive. Note: in the case of private services the terms ‘client’ and ‘individual’ will refer to the same person.
Sponsored services: Where the client is an organisation paying for services provided to an individual or group of individuals.
STANDARDS REQUIRED FROM ALL PROVIDERS OF CAREER AND OUTPLACEMENT SERVICES
This section of the Code details the standards of service that apply to all providers of career and outplacement services. The standards are split into two parts, which detail standards applying to the way the business relationship (Part A) and professional relationship (Part B) with clients are conducted.
PART A: BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP
This section details the standards that providers of career and outplacement services should adhere to in their business relationships with clients. It includes issues like advertising, the contractual relationship and fees/payment.
• The content of all advertisements and public relations material will be unambiguous, accurate and capable of being verified.
• All oral representations to prospective clients will be unambiguous and accurate.
• All claims regarding past performance of a consultant or of Proteus will be capable of verification.
• There will be no display of any affiliations with organisations in a manner that falsely implies sponsorship or verification of that organisation.
THE CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP
• The contractual relationship and services to be made available (including their duration), will be agreed and confirmed in writing. This will form a contract between Proteus and the client.
• Any variations to this contract will be discussed in full with the client and agreed in writing.
• The client will be provided with a copy of the contract for their records.
• The contract will run either for a specified length of time or until the individual is re-employed or becomes self-employed; in the latter case, the assignment may be concluded if the consultant can demonstrate they can no longer be of assistance. Such a decision must be taken only after the consultant has exhausted every reasonable possibility of practical help and in full consultation with, and agreement of, all parties.
• The contract should make it clear that successful placement into new employment cannot be guaranteed within a specific timescale.
• Any other guarantees must be set out in advance in the written contract
FEES AND PAYMENT
• Fees and terms of payment will be disclosed to the client in writing in advance of any contract being signed. Details of what is included in the fees must be given.
• A schedule of payments with clear indications of when monies are due will be agreed in writing at commencement of the contract and a copy will be provided to the client.
• Additional charges will not be made above those fees originally agreed at commencement of the contract nor will charges be made to any other party in connection with the client or assignment, except as originally disclosed or subsequently agreed with the client and confirmed in writing.
• Proteus will not engage in any unlawful restraint of trade or unfair method of competition.
PART B: PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP
This section highlights the standards that providers of career and outplacement services should adhere to in their professional relationships with clients. It includes issues like the ability to demonstrate that they are competent in the provision of career and outplacement consultancy, acceptance of clients and provision of services.
Consultants should maintain and advance their knowledge and skills throughout their career by undertaking training and continuing professional development (CPD).
ACCEPTANCE OF CLIENTS
• Consultants will not accept any individual for career and outplacement services without holding an initial meeting of sufficient duration to enable the consultant to achieve a clear understanding of their requirements. Such a meeting must be free of charge and without commitment by either party.
• No individual will be knowingly accepted into a career and outplacement services programme if it is evident they need medical/psychological therapy beyond the competence of the consultant or the resources available. Such therapy may be provided by other agencies at the same time.
• Consultants will not accept an individual for career and outplacement services where the services they can make available are unlikely to contribute substantially to the achievement of the individual’s objectives.
• Any known or potential conflict of interests will be divulged before an assignment is accepted.
PROVISION OF SERVICES
• If an individual is submitted for a vacancy which is being handled by an associated recruitment service of the career or outplacement consultancy, then the nature of the association must be disclosed to all parties.
• Consultants will take all reasonable steps to ensure that adequate information is obtained regarding the individual’s background and abilities, to provide a firm foundation for any personal career advice given. This should include in-depth interviewing, and may include psychometric testing.
• Consultants must be able to demonstrate effective quality control in their activities and specify quality control methods.
• Individuals have the right to expect that appropriate communication will be maintained with them throughout the assignment. For example, contact should take place at least once a month, when they must be advised of all activities undertaken on their behalf.
• Consultants will remain independent of the individual’s affairs and the opportunities they seek to pursue, and ensure that counsel and advice remain objective throughout the assignment
• The consultant will clarify and explain the nature and extent of confidentiality from the start. Circumstances in which confidentiality may be breached will be identified.
• All information received as a result of a contract for services shall be treated in the strictest confidence and kept securely at all times. Clients should be advised of their rights of access to their records.
• In accordance with data protection legislation client records will not be disclosed to any third party without prior authorisation.
• Consultants must be fully aware of, and comply with, the relevant legislation affecting the provision of services. Breach of the law will be deemed a breach of this Code.
• Consultants must supply references should the client request them.
Any actual or potential conflict of interest should be disclosed as soon as it is recognised by the consultant and, if necessary, the consultant must be prepared to withdraw from the contract, refunding any payment for services not provided.
RESPECT FOR CLIENT’S AUTONOMY
• Consultants will respect diversity of beliefs and values and will continually review their practice with due regard for changing societal norms.
• Consultants must be mindful of the personal nature of the client relationship when providing services.
ADDITIONAL STANDARDS REQUIRED FROM THE PROVIDERS OF SPONSORED CAREER AND OUTPLACEMENT SERVICES
Section 2 details additional standards to those mentioned in Section 1 and apply to all consultants who provide sponsored career and outplacement services.
Note: Sponsored services refer to services where the client is an organisation paying for services provided to an individual or group of individuals.
The standards are split into two parts, which detail standards applying to the way the business relationship (Part A) and professional relationship (Part B) with client organisations are conducted.
PART A: BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP
This section details the additional standards that providers of sponsored career and outplacement services should adhere to in their business relationships with clients:
• The individual receiving services should be provided with full written details of the services agreed and confirmed in the contract with the client. They should be informed of all facilities which exist and how these can be accessed, details of individual consultants who have been assigned to provide services and details of the contract, including the duration and any special provisions.
• Individuals should immediately be informed of any variations to the contract agreed with the client.
• Individuals should be made aware of any guarantees given to the client and the limitations of services.
• Individuals should be made aware that provision of services cannot guarantee successful placement into new employment within a specific timeframe.
• The individual should never be asked for any fees.
PART B: PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP
Part B details the additional standards that providers of sponsored career and outplacement services should adhere to in their professional relationships with clients:
• Consultants should hold a full discussion with the individual prior to the commencement of services to ensure they understand what is to be provided.
• Consultants should always act in the best interests of the individual and this must be communicated to clients.
• Consultants must respect the confidentiality of both clients and individuals and no information received from either party should be disclosed without prior agreement.
• If clients wish, consultants must provide them with regular updates on the progress of services and sufficient information to enable them to monitor the quality and effectiveness of services provided and the satisfaction of individuals with services. Individuals should be made aware that this information is being fed back to the organisation.
• Consultants should remain independent of the client’s affairs and any actual or potential conflict of interest should be disclosed as soon as it is recognised by the consultant.
ADDITIONAL STANDARDS REQUIRED FROM THE PROVIDERS OF PRIVATE CAREER AND OUTPLACEMENT SERVICES Section 3 details additional standards to those mentioned in Section 1 and apply to all consultants who provide private career and outplacement services.
Note: Private services refer to services provided to clients as individuals paying for the services they personally receive.
The standards are split into two parts, which detail standards applying to the way the business relationship (Part A) and professional relationship (Part B) with clients are conducted.
PART A: BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP
This section details the additional standards that providers of private career and outplacement services should adhere to in their business relationships with clients:
• The consultant will ensure the client understands the provisions of the contract, any exclusions and the nature of the services to be provided before the contract is signed.
• The consultant should ensure the client has the means to access all the services available.
• The consultant will allow the client, if they wish, to take away a copy of the contract for consideration and reference to a third party source of advice such as a legal adviser before the contract is signed.
• The consultant will ensure the client is aware of the existence of this Code of Practice and is given a copy.
• Any variations to services from that specified in the contract must be discussed fully with the client and agreed in writing.
PART B: PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP
This section details the additional standards that providers of private career and outplacement services should adhere to in their professional relationships with clients:
• The consultant must always act in the best interests of the individual
MAKING A COMPLAINT
Proteus will consider all complaints made against consultants and investigate those which appear to constitute a breach of the provisions of the Code of Practice for Career and Outplacement Consultants. Complaints must be made in writing and should be directed in the first instance to the Director of Programmes.
Complaints must give the full name and address of the complainant and the name and address (if known) of the person, or persons, against whom the complaint is made. It should give as much detail as possible about the nature of the complaint, including the relationship (if any) between the complainant and the person, or persons, against whom the complaint is made. The complaint will be considered by the Director of Programmes. If the complaint is considered to constitute a breach of the Code of Practice, the consultant concerned will be contacted for their views and any further information they want and are able to provide.
If a consultant wishes to appeal against the outcome of the investigation of a complaint against them, they must do so in writing within 30 days of a decision being made. They must set out the reasons why they believe the decision is unjustified with any further supporting evidence and direct this to the contact details provided above. Appeals will be considered by the Board of Directors.