A notice from DFID’s Chief People Officer Helen Mills published on the staff intranet this week explains that non-U.K. staff can continue in their current roles when they transfer over to the new Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, “up to any pre-agreed end dates.”
However, they will not be eligible to change roles until the department’s approach to nationality requirements has been determined, with some planned job moves now suspended.
The issue affects “home civil servants” appointed in the U.K. or under U.K. terms and conditions of service, who made up more than 75% of DFID’s 3,269 staff as of March 2018. DFID would not say what proportion of these employees are non-U.K. nationals.
One staff member, who spoke to Devex on condition of anonymity, said they felt the atmosphere was becoming more hostile to non-U.K. staff.
In depth for Pro subscribers: Conference call: The DFID-FCO merger
Former diplomat and development official Myles Wickstead and researcher Nilima Gulrajani join Devex for a conversation about the upcoming DFID-FCO merger and what it means for U.K. aid.
European Union nationals and some others are eligible for many jobs in the U.K. civil service, including within DFID. However, most jobs in FCO are reserved for U.K. nationals, since they are considered to require “special allegiance to the Crown,” according to the Civil Service Nationality Rules.
Roles within the new FCDO will be reserved for U.K. nationals by default, although this could change after a policy review.
In the meantime — to avoid any compulsory redundancies, which the government has promised will not happen — the notice describes an “interim” solution under which any post currently held by a non-U.K. national will be granted unreserved status for the duration of their tenure.
This allows non-U.K. staff to continue in their current roles, but “until a long-term approach is agreed, such staff will ... not be eligible to move within DFID or FCDO,” according to the notice.
A long-term approach is expected to be determined around the end of September. While pre-planned job moves will be allowed to take place until that date, non-U.K. nationals who were expecting to take up new roles on or after Oct. 1 will now have those plans “placed on hold.”
“We know that this will be disappointing for many of our colleagues … We are trying to work as hard and as fast as we can to give you more answers and more certainty about your long-term career in the FCDO,” Mills wrote.
The change does not affect local staff appointed in-country.
Asked about the issue, a government spokesperson said only that “we have been regularly communicating with all staff to help them get ready for the launch of the new FCDO, which will combine the very best of DFID and FCO.”