Safer Recruitment

Safer Recruitment

Several initiatives have been launched since 2018 to improve vetting and recruitment systems, with the aim of reducing the risk of employing perpetrators of sexual exploitation and abuse in the international development and humanitarian aid sector. Initiating such measures on a global scale is however a significant challenge, especially as they involve cross-border interpretations of issues such as employment law and privacy law, as well as relying on a mass global sign-up. 

Our Top Three Recommendations

Vetting schemes

  • The Misconduct Disclosure scheme  (M&D scheme): Run by the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response, this was launched in January 2019 to improve reference checking systems to disclose past incidents of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. Participating organisations sign up to the scheme to share information on misconduct going back 5 years, so the more organisations sign up, the more effective the scheme will be. Whilst there is no fee, small organisations will need to consider carefully as to whether they can meet the commitments required (see page 4 of the How to Implement Guide (pdf)

  • The Proposed Aid Worker Registration/Passport Scheme: since 2019, a multi-agency steering group from across the sector has been working on this scheme which intends to provide accurate work history linked to personal identity, for all aid workers globally. It will then be used alongside the M&D scheme. Currently still under development, the legal review was published in June 2020.

  • Disclosure Scotland & the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme. Disclosure Scotland is the government agency managing and delivering the PVG membership scheme (equivalent to DBS checks in England and Wales), which “helps ensure people whose behaviour makes them unsuitable to work with children and protected adults cannot do 'regulated work' ' with these vulnerable groups”. Recent changes now mean that employers can apply to have an individual who is going to work overseas PVG-checked, if that work, if done in Scotland, would be considered to be 'regulated work'. Find out what is covered by PVG.


  • Safer Recruitment Guidelinesby Start Network, on behalf of the CHS Alliance. This guideline is in line with the Keeping Children Safe standards, but also considers other vulnerable groups in an international development/humanitarian setting. It outlines the key steps and issues to consider in recruitment in order to safeguard organisations and individuals.

  • Case Study: Using the Misconduct Disclosure Scheme (pdf): This study by Bond looks at Oxfam’s experience of using the Misconduct Disclosure Scheme.

  • Webinar: Robust or risky Recruitment (youtube video) by the Safeguarding Resource & Support Hub. With a focus on the need for collaboration and the Misconduct Disclosure scheme, speakers discuss practical steps that can be made to strengthen recruitment measures for safeguarding in the aid sector, and the challenges and risks involved in doing so.

  • OSCRs Guidance for Trustees on Safe Recruitment (scroll down on page): this section of OSCR’s guidance summarises Scottish organisations’ responsibilities regarding safe recruitment, for those employed to work in Scotland and overseas.

  • Volunteer Scotland’s Disclosure Services provides advice, guidance and checks for eligible volunteers who are working in Scotland.

  • Safer Recruitment: by NSPCC: Whilst aimed at those recruited to work in the UK, this includes some useful tips that can be used in any setting.

  • Safer Recruitment through Better Recruitment: by the National Care Inspectorate. Again, aimed at those recruiting for work in Scotland, this can be used to find certain useful guidance on recruiting in particular for working in the care sector. 

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