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Principles and values

The NHSScotland Workforce Policies ensure all employees and workers are treated non-discriminately, fairly and consistently.

NHSScotland values

These policies are person-centred and should be applied using the NHSScotland values of:

  • care and compassion
  • dignity and respect
  • openness, honesty and responsibility
  • quality and teamwork

There are a number of key principles which underpin these policies and must be applied.

Contractual entitlements

The NHSScotland workforce policies largely reflect the terms and conditions of employment for the various staff groups. However, NHSScotland has agreed to enhance some provisions that employees are contractually entitled to beyond the minimum established in law.

Right to be represented

All employees have the right to be represented by a trade union representative. Alternatively, they can be accompanied by a work colleague not acting in a legal capacity. The right to be represented applies at all stages and under all workforce policies, including any investigatory process

In the case of trade union representatives, they will have the right to be represented by a full-time officer of the relevant trade union.

Equality and diversity

Policies should be applied with a view to eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation, and less favourable treatment.

They should be applied fairly and consistently to any employee or worker regardless of:

  • protected characteristics (age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership or pregnancy and maternity)
  • personal characteristics such as trans identities including non-binary, weight, social status
  • offender status
  • membership or non-membership of a trade union
  • contractual status - part-time or fixed-term

Early intervention and application of these policies will encourage good relations and advance equality of opportunity.

You can find out more about how these policies have been impact-assessed by visiting the overview page of each policy.


All employees and workers have the right for their confidentiality to be protected and are required to respect the confidentiality of others. This is both a legal and contractual obligation.

All workforce policy processes are subject to strict confidentiality, and any breach will be investigated. This may lead to disciplinary action and in some cases legal proceedings.

Supportive approach and open communication

An open, honest approach to communication by all parties is key to the successful application of these workforce policies. Managers, employees, trade union and HR representatives should encourage an early resolution approach wherever appropriate and possible.

A person-centred approach should be taken to reflect the individual nature of each situation while a consistent process is followed. Support should be identified and offered to all parties.

Employees should be encouraged to raise concerns and offered support to do so. This should be without fear of victimisation, subsequent discrimination or disadvantage. Support will be provided to the employee or employees raising a concern and those who are the subject of any complaint.

Equity of access

All employees should be supported to ensure they are aware of the workforce policies and can access these when required. Support should also be available to assist employees to understand and actively participate when necessary.

It is recognised that some employees, may at times, have difficulty expressing themselves verbally or on paper. For example, those whose first language is not English or those with literacy issues may need additional support to access or participate fully and equitably in workforce policy processes.

Consideration should be given to communications with employees who may have additional needs, and where these impact on their ability to understand or express themselves. For example, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, or mental health issues.

These employees should be encouraged to seek assistance from their manager, a work colleague, a trade union, a professional organisation representative, or a representative from the HR department. Where required, an interpreter or translator should be provided. Advocates should be allowed to support the employee, to ensure they are able to engage in any process fully.

Find out about the roles and responsibilities of the people using our workforce policies across the NHS in Scotland.

Read about the responsibilities of your employer when processing and storing personal information linked to workforce policy processes.

View the advice and support available to help anyone with personal or workplace difficulties while involved in workforce policy processes.

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