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HR Advisor

Durham, County Durham, England, United Kingdom

The University

At Durham University we are proud of our people. A globally outstanding centre of educational excellence, a collegiate community of extraordinary people, a unique and historic setting – Durham is a university like no other. We believe that inspiring our people to do outstanding things at Durham enables Durham people to do outstanding things professionally and personally. 

Across the University we have a huge variety of roles and career opportunities, which together make us a large and successful community, which is a key hub of activity within our region and nationally. We would be thrilled if you would consider joining our thriving University. Further information about the University can be found here 


The Role and Department

The HR Adviser will assist the HR Business Partner in providing generalist HR advice and support to a dedicated area, dealing with the full range of staffing issues, and working with other areas of HR & OD on areas such as recruitment, employee relations, people development, role evaluation and reward. The HR Advisor will predominantly support employee relations but there will be the opportunity to support projects across the broad spectrum of HR & OD. 

Further information about the role and the responsibilities is at the bottom of this job description.

Working at Durham 

A competitive salary is only one part of the many fantastic benefits you will receive if you join the University: you will also receive access to the following fantastic benefits: 

•   30 Days annual leave per year in addition to 8 public holidays and 4 customary days per year – a total of 42 days per year. 

•    The University closes between Christmas and New Year 

•   We offer a generous pension scheme, As a new member of staff you will be automatically enrolled into the University Superannuation Scheme (USS).

•   No matter how you travel to work, we have you covered. We have parking across campus, a cycle to work scheme which helps you to buy a bike and discount with local bus and train companies.

•   There is a genuine commitment to developing our colleagues professionally and personally. There is a comprehensive range of development courses, apprenticeships and access to qualifications and routes to develop your career in the University. All staff have dedicated annual time to concentrate on their personal development opportunities. 

•   Lots of support for health and wellbeing including discounted membership for our state of the art sport and gym facilities and access to a 24-7 Employee Assistance Programme.

•  On site nursery is available and access to holiday camps for children aged 5-16 throughout the year.

•   Family friendly policies, including maternity and adoption leave, which are among the most generous in the higher education sector (and likely above and beyond many employers).

•   The opportunity to take part in staff volunteering activities to make a difference in the local community

•   Discounts are available via our benefits portal including; money off at supermarkets, high street retailers, IT products such as Apple, the cinema and days out at various attractions. 

•   A salary sacrifice scheme is also available to help you take advantage of tax savings on benefits. 

•   If you are moving to Durham, we can help with removal costs and we have a dedicated team who can help you with the practicalities such as house hunting and schools. If you need a visa, we cover most visa costs and offer an interest free loan scheme to pay for dependant visas.


Durham University is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion 

Our collective aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and we believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work. As a University equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are a key part of the University’s Strategy and a central part of everything we do. We also live by our values and our Staff Code of Conduct. At Durham we actively work towards providing an environment where our staff and students can study, work and live in a community which is supportive and inclusive. It’s important to us that all of our colleagues are aligned to both our values and commitment to EDI.

We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. If you have taken time out of your career, and you feel it relevant, let us know about it in your application. If you are a candidate with a disability, we are committed to ensuring fair treatment throughout the recruitment process. We will make adjustments to support the interview process wherever it is reasonable to do so and, where successful, reasonable adjustments will be made to support people within their role.

Person Specification

What you need to demonstrate when you apply/Person Specification 


When you apply it is important that you let us know what skills/experience you have from a similar role and/or what skills/experience you have which would make you right for this role. Further information about the role and responsibilities is at the end of this job description. Where a criteria has an asterisk* next to it, it may be given additional weighting when your application is considered.  


Your application should cover the following criteria: 

Essential Criteria

1.     Educated to degree level (or equivalent experience).

2.     Continuing professional development required to maintain professional recognition.

3.     Knowledge and experience of ensuring compliance with regulatory and organisational policy and guidelines.

4.     Experience of providing specialist advice and guidance to a range of customers and colleagues, including more senior colleagues.

5.     Ability to network effectively and develop strong and productive working relationships, to influence perceptions of the University.

6.     Certified member of CIPD and post qualification experience in a medium to large organisation.

7.     Demonstrable evidence of managing multiple Employee Relations cases simultaneously.

8.     The ability of successfully manage and deliver projects.

9.     A broad working knowledge of employment legislation and experience of its practical application in a medium or large complex organisation.

10.    Good commercial awareness, personal presence and credibility.

11.    Ability to work under pressure and to set and achieve goals within tight deadlines.

12.  Good negotiating skills and ability to influence the views of others and to gain agreement to proposals.

13.    Ability to demonstrate thorough investigatory and analytical skills.

Desirable Criteria

1.     Experience of dealing with trade union representatives.

2.     HR experience within Higher Education.

3.     Experience of job evaluation and reward.

4. A thorough understanding of major issues, including HR issues, in Higher Education

How to Apply  

To progress to the assessment stage, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification above. It will be at the discretion of the recruiting panel as to whether they will also consider any desirable criteria, but we would urge candidates to provide evidence for all criteria. Please don’t forget to check if there is any weighted criteria (see above).

While some criteria will be considered at the shortlisting stage, other criteria may be considered later in the assessment process, such as questions at interview.  


Submitting your application 

We prefer to receive applications online. We will update you about your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system. Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to make sure you have not missed any of our updates.


What you need to submit  

•   A CV

•   A supporting statement or covering letter which outlines how you meet all of the criteria within the Person Specification

Contact details  


For a chat about the role or any further information please contact Andrew Kirk, HR Business Partner on [email protected]  

Typical Role Requirements

Service Delivery/Development

  • Undertake relevant research and provide specialist expertise and support with complexity of data and information sources, interpretation and analysis.
  • Contribute to development of operational service activities to ensure excellence in the stakeholder experience. Including contribution to operational leadership teams and decision making to shape the nature and level of support services.
  • Collect and analyse stakeholder feedback to help define needs and requirements and the design and planning of services. Ensure the review and improvement of systems, processes and procedures in line with University, School, Department or unit frameworks.
  • Contribute to and lead business meetings, working groups and sub-committees at operational service level.
  • Responsible for managing small budgets for consumables and some capital items, keeping records and processing invoices.
  • Work with the HR Business Partner to develop and implement changes to the design and development of service processes, techniques and deliverables for one or more service strands or project streams.
  • Coordinate, oversee and deal with complaints.
  • Direct and administer processes including, progression, promotion and reward, providing support to senior management with related activities and to support the HR Administrator with other administrative tasks as required.
  • Analyse service data and processes and provide reports to the HR Business Partner and Head of HR Business Partnering making recommendations for improvement as appropriate.
  • Verify and input information to the HR/Payroll information system as required.
  • Stakeholder, Networks and Personal Development 
  • Maintain an awareness of current policy, employment law and best practice, and its relevance to the higher education environment and provision of professional HR advice using specialist knowledge. 
  • Distribute service information and provide advice to stakeholders regarding compliance and regulations.
  • Ensure regulations and procedures are updated to take account of internal and external changes.
  • Awareness of the external environment and sector best practice to support high quality services
  • Show a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and the University’s values. 
  • Provide specialist knowledge and support when interpreting and analysing complex data and information sources.

Planning and Organisation

  • Contribute to progressing the strategic and operational priorities of your Department.
  • Meet the development needs of your stakeholders, providing training when required.
  • Manage budgets and expenditure including buying (and returning) goods and services.



  • Recognised professional practitioner and service specialist working with the HR Business Partner to provide proactive professional advice and practical expertise on the full range of employee relations issues (including employment, performance management, absence cases, restructures, development, termination, legislative, contractual, grievance and disciplinary issues) to Managers and Staff of all levels across the University.
  • Internal and external relationship development and partnership working, networking and participation to facilitate knowledge exchange, including maintaining constructive and collaborative communications with staff, work colleagues and trade union representatives
  • Provision of well-constructed written advice, reports and letters relation to the full range of employee relations issues.
  • Provide proactive and comprehensive HR support to Head of Services, School and/or Department to achieve strategic and operational priorities.
  • Provide advice and share guidance with your stakeholders to ensure that the University’s policies, procedures and regulations are complied with.
  • Update policies and procedures in response to any internal or external changes. 
  • Use your expertise to provide training or guidance to other stakeholders.
  • Work effectively with campus trade unions to further University objectives and/or to resolve employee relations issues.
  • Identify and design activities to meet learning objectives and outcomes.
  • Deliver relevant HR training, teaching and/or development delivery for stakeholders.
  • Work with HR Business Partner to implement change management and other projects in collaboration with Divisional Heads, Heads of College, Heads of academic and service departments and other relevant peers and specialists.
  • Any other reasonable duties, including providing cover in the absence of the HR Business Partner.


Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement Privacy Notices - Durham University which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.  

When appointing to this role the University must ensure that it meets any applicable immigration requirements, including salary thresholds which are applicable to some visas.


£37,099 - £44,263

CIPD Level 3 Required

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