In order to strengthen the European Research Area (ERA), the European Commission adopts the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (Charter & Code), two documents oriented towards both researchers and towards funders and employers in the public and private sectors, designed to promote equal rights and obligations for researchers throughout the European Research Area, in an attempt to decrease fragmentation of the R+D+i sector locally, regionally, nationally, in the sector and in Europe.

The European Commission issued a recommendation for implementation of these measures on 11 March 20215.

In order to promote adoption of the 40 principles defined in the Charter & Code, HR Excellence in Researchcame into being as public acknowledgement of research institutions having accredited their efforts to align their human resources policies with said principles.

The initiative acts as a tool enabling institutions (employers and funders) that wish to put the principles of the Charter & Code into practice to do so, making it more attractive to researchers in the European Research Area.

In this context, and under its Strategic Plan 2016-2020, approved in December 2015, the Biogipuzkoa HRI detected the need to design its own human resources strategy including the requirements set forth in the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers, launching the process to undertake this project in July 2016 with sending of the endorsement letter.

Lastly, and in order to verify the implementation of an open, transparent and merit-based recruitment system, in keeping with the recommendations of the Commission, including the procedure to implement the HRS4R, the Biogipuzkoa HRI also began work to develop an OTM-R policy.

The main phases of the HRS4R process are:

  • Initial phase: Endorsement of the Charter & Code and Notification of Commitment.
  • Implementation phase: Preparing a Gap Analysis and an Action Plan for Human Resources Management.
  • Initial assessment by the European Commission via an external Assessment Panel.
  • Interim assessment (self-assessment):Internal Review and External Assessment (2 years after the initial HRS4R award).
  • Award renewal phase(5 years after the initial HRS4R award).
  • Continuous improvement and enhanced quality and assessment phases (three-yearly renewal cycle).

Initial Assessmet

The Biogipuzkoa HRI made an internal review of its situation with respect to the various principles of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers by conducting a Gap Analysis in the different areas of interest (ethical and professional aspects, recruitment, working conditions and social security and professional training and development). This analysis served to detect the areas of the Institute requiring improvement, leading to development of the Inicial Action Plan. Both documents can be downloaded via the following links:

Following evaluation by the European Commission of the initial documentation submitted, the Biogipuzkoa HRI obtained the “HR Excellence in Research” recognition on 5 August 2018.

 Interim Assessment

In September 2020, two years after receiving the HRS4R Stamp, the Biogipuzkoa HRI conducted a self-assessment, reviewing the extent to which the initial Action Plan had been fulfilled, detecting areas for improvement and proposing new actions for the next period. The self-assessment was followed by an update of the Action Plan, which can be consulted via the following link:

The necessary documentation was submitted for its evaluation by the European Commission, and, on 23 December 2020, the Commission issued its assessment report, indicating that implementation of the Action Plan was firmly and systematically guaranteed and that the Biogipuzkoa HRI was making progress with the implementation of adequate and enhanced quality actions as described in the Action Plan.

Renewal Phase

Three years after the interim assessment, the Biogipuzkoa HRI worked throughout 2023 to prepare the documents required for renewal of the HRS4R Stamp. The HRS4R Stamp working group at the Institute therefore set about making an analysis of its situation in regard to fulfilment of the action plan, identifying the gaps existing according to the 40 principles of the European Charter & Codes. Based on this analysis and by means of conducting an online survey with the participation of all staff at the Biogipuzkoa HRI, a new Action Plan has been drawn up for the coming years, also taking account of the new European Charter for Researchers, recently approved by the European Commission. The Biogipuzkoa HRI OTM-R checklist was also updated. Both documents can be downloaded via the following links:

The documentation for renewal of the HRS4R Stamp has now been submitted to the European Commission for its evaluation which, once completed, will be followed by a visit by the auditing team to verify the information given in the internal review report.

OTM-R Policy

The Biogipuzkoa HRI has an OTM-R Policy for the purposes of guaranteeing an open, transparent and merit-based recruitment policy. Following the internal review conducted for renewal of the HRS4R Stamp, this policy has now been updated, adding new aspects such as greater details of the phases involved in the recruitment process, a description of the Evaluation and Selection Process, how new staff are welcomed, and the quality control established. Said policy can be consulted via the following link:

HRS4R Working Group

The Biogipuzkoa HRI has a working group, made up of both research and management staff from the different Areas involved in developing the HRS4R Strategy, responsible for supervising and managing the numerous actions included in its Action Plan.

The members of the HRS4R group are:

  • Amaia Pedruzo. Head of Economic Management and Human Resources.
  • Arantza Abad. Managing Director. Head of the Innovation Support Unit.
  • Ainara Redondo. Human Resources Technician.
  • Julián de Frutos. Head of the Evaluation-Quality Unit.
  • Jesús María Bañales. R4 Researcher.
  • Lorea Blázquez.R3 Researcher.
  • Laura Izquierdo. R2 Researcher.
  • Andrea Iribarren. R1 Researcher.

Relevant actions carried out under the HRS4R stamp

Numerous actions have been carried out under the HRS4R Strategy with the involvement of staff at the institute. The main achievements are highlighted below:

  • Development of an OTM-R policy. OTM-R Policy
  • Circulation through the institute’s newsletter of the actions carried out under the HRS4R Strategy.
  • Meeting on the HRS4R Stamp for staff at the institute to explain the main areas of progress and the extent to which the Strategy has been introduced, as well as the next steps to be taken.
  • Creation of a suggestion box.
  • Production of a Code of Good Scientific Practice available on the institute’s intranet.
  • Yearly updating of the institute’s Training Plan, taking account of the needs of the research staff.
  • Drawing up and publication of the Biogipuzkoa HRI Equality Plan.