We are committed to the recruitment and retention of high quality experienced staff. This is particularly important in posts with key skills that provide critical services to the people of Dorset.

At times, it can be difficult to attract such staff. Where there is difficulty in recruiting the right people to a particular post and this leads to risks for the service, the Director or Chief Executive can consider offering the friends and family referral payment. This payment would go to an existing employee who refers a successful candidate to a key vacancy.

This scheme is available to employees of the council. This scheme does not apply to schools-based staff; Centrally Employed Teachers; those on Chief Officers terms and conditions; contractors employed by a third party or agency workers.

The scheme is intended to assist in the recruitment and retention of key staff in difficult to recruit to posts.


The scheme can be applied to any permanent post at any grade where a clear skills shortage and difficulty in recruiting key staff can be demonstrated. The recruiting service will fund the payments.  

The amount payable is set at a maximum of £1,000 regardless of the post, pro rata for part time positions.

Employees who are eligible to make a referral under this scheme can refer an individual to any eligible vacancy, with the following exceptions:

  • where the referrer is the recruiting manager or is otherwise directly involved in the recruitment and selection process for that vacancy
  • where a successful application from a friend or family member would mean that the referring employee would find themselves subject to any action under the close relationships at work protocol
  • where the referrer is also intending to provide a reference for the applicant

Once it is agreed that the scheme applies to a post, the scheme will apply to that post for an agreed timeframe of no more than 12 months. On each occasion that the post is advertised, the recruiting manager will need to specify that the scheme applies.

The Director, with support from Human Resources & Organisational Development (HR&OD) will review the business case every 12 months. Should the review find that evidence no longer supports use of the scheme for a particular post, the scheme will no longer apply to that post for future job advertisements.

The council is committed to the fair treatment of all applicants. No preference will be given to applicants on the basis that they have been referred. The normal recruitment and selection process applies.

This scheme and/or the level of payment are non-contractual and the scheme is subject to amendment or withdrawal at any time without notice.

Applying the scheme to a post

Approval of the use of the friends and family referral scheme for recruitment to a particular post(s) is at the discretion of the relevant Director.

The recruiting/service manager(s), with support from HR&OD must put together a business case and agree the amount payable for the Director’s consideration. The business case must evidence the difficulty in recruiting and show that inability to offer the scheme would lead to real risks for the service.

The Director must take account of all of the following criteria:

  • whether the post is in a critical service area, for example whether it provides a statutory service
  • evidence of a skills shortage, supported by national and/or regional research and data, such as the government’s skills shortage occupation list
  • the vacancy rate over the past six months and evidence of the ongoing risks to service provision as a direct result
  • the effectiveness of any other measures to address the issue, such as the use of labour market increments
  • costs to the service
  • outcomes of an equality impact assessment (or screening record as appropriate) to ensure that there is no unfair or unintended discrimination, in accordance with our guidance for EqIAs.

If it is agreed that the scheme applies to a post, HR&OD will communicate the outcome as appropriate. The post(s) can then be advertised with reference to the scheme.

Applications made under this scheme can only be used to consider the need for a friends and family payment. Applications under any other recruitment or retention scheme (such as the Labour Market Increment Scheme) must be made under the terms of that scheme.

The referral process

The recruiting manager will indicate that the friends and family referral scheme applies to a vacant post on the request to advertise e-form via DES (in the notes/specific requests field).

Any current vacancies will be advertised on our website. The advert will clearly state that the scheme applies.

The scheme is only available for applicants who have not been an employee of the council during the 12 months before the date of the advert, if they have been the employee who referred them will not receive the payment. An employee can make a referral to any job that attracts a payment. An employee can only receive one payment for referring a family member or friend within a 12-month period.

Only one employee can receive the referral payment. The employee who will receive the payment is the employee who is named by the applicant as part of their application.

To make a referral, the existing employee is encouraged to forward details of the vacancy to the potential applicant directly from the on-line advert. The existing employee can share the advert details to a potentially suitable applicant via email or shared on social media.

The employee should make sure that the potential applicant has all the information they will need to identify the employee as the referrer (payroll number and work email address). The applicant must apply online and enter the referrer’s details in the relevant section of the application form.

If the applicant is appointed, the recruiting manager will:

  • check that the referring employee is eligible within the rules of the scheme, with advice from HR&OD
  • send an acknowledgement email to the referring employee, copied to HR&OD Payroll Support to confirm that he/she is eligible for the payment and confirming the terms under which the payment will be paid.

All information regarding the council’s decision whether or not to appoint an applicant will remain confidential, in accordance with the usual recruitment and selection processes.

Making a payment under the scheme

The recruiting manager is responsible for making arrangements for the payments which will be funded from the recruiting manager's service.

The payment will be made to the referring employee in 2 stages 50% of the payment when the new employee has completed their first 6 months in post (from date of appointment), the remaining 50% of the payment will be made on the anniversary of the new employee’s commencement date.

The recruiting manager is responsible for emailing the HR&OD Payroll Support team that each stage of the payment is due. The recruiting manager needs to check the relevant HR & payroll deadlines when requesting these payments. The manager is required to confirm:

  • that the new member of staff has successfully completed the qualifying period of service. (Payment to the referring employee can only be withheld if the new employee is subject to formal capability or disciplinary procedures or a competency increment has been withheld).
  • the amount payable (as the amount is up to a maximum of £1,000 and  is paid pro rata for part time posts).
  • the cost code for the payment (which will normally be the same cost centre code as the post that is currently being recruited)
  • the date payable (i.e. this date will be 6 or 12 months from the date of appointment)

It is the responsibility of the recruiting manager to ensure that these payments are made in a timely manner.

The referrer will receive the payments within their salary following the recruiting manager’s confirmation.

Payments are subject to tax and national insurance. Whether or not the payments are pensionable depends on the rules of the pension scheme. Payments are pensionable under the LGPS. In other council workplace pension schemes, they are not pensionable. The payslip will show the payment which is paid through payroll.

The referring employee should raise any queries regarding the referral payment with their recruiting manager.

This reward is non-contractual and will only be paid if the referrer is still employed by the council at the time a payment is due.