The Law Shop is now closed. Please click here to find out more.

Recruitment and Equality

When businesses recruit new workers, it is important to keep equality legislation in mind and avoid discriminating against potential employees throughout the hiring process.

When recruiting for a job, it is extremely important that you avoid discriminating against applicants unfairly. While this may seem obvious, there are actually some aspects of discrimination which you may not have considered. If an applicant claims that you discriminated against them during your recruitment procedure, this could lead to legal action being taken against you, so it is vital that you are aware of what not to do when seeking new employees.

Advertising a role

The potential for discrimination begins when advertising that a position is available. You cannot state in a job advert that you will not employ people because of a protected characteristic, including those with a disability.

However, it is also important that you avoid indirect discrimination. This is when you do not explicitly state that you will not employ certain types of people, but instead say that you are looking for characteristics which might exclude individuals with a certain protected characteristic nonetheless.

In order to avoid this kind of discrimination, you should ensure that you have a good idea of what is needed for the job and base the advert around this. You should be able to justify the requirements you have listed for the role if you are asked.

For example, you may think that saying you want someone who is “experienced” will mean you get better applicants, but if you cannot justify this requirement it could be seen as indirect age discrimination against younger applicants who may be less experienced. Of course, if it is actually a requirement that applicants already have experience in a similar role, you should be able to safely include this.

The way you advertise a role could also constitute discrimination if you appear to be excluding certain groups in doing so. For example, if you only take out advertising in magazines aimed at a certain group of people, this could mean that you are discriminating against people not belonging to that group if they  are less likely to see the advert as a result.

Selecting applicants

When interviewing job applicants, you should avoid asking questions which are not relevant to the role and which may make assumptions about certain groups of people. For example, you shouldn’t ask about people’s health status, their relationship status or whether they have, or intend to have, children.

If there is a reason to ask questions like this due to the requirements of the job, you should simply ask directly. Instead of trying to figure out if someone will be okay with travelling for the job by asking about their family situation, tell them that the role involves travelling and ask if they are willing to do so. Rather than quiz someone on their health for a job which involves heavy lifting, ask if they are capable of lifting heavy things. If you stick to what is needed for people to actually do the job, you will protect yourself against accusations of discrimination.

When choosing who to give the role to, you should ensure that you do not treat individuals unfavourably due to protected characteristics, and stick to the requirements needed to fulfil the position.