Legal Article - Employment Law

Employee Recruitment Best Practices and Applications

The necessary legal restrictions apply not only to whom the employer selects for the job but also in the arrangements made for seeking potential employees. This could cover such actions as:

• The method of recruitment whether by employment advertisements, through employment agencies, job centres, career offices or simply by word of mouth

• The content of any recruitment methods (i.e. no words or actions must be used which indicates, or might be reasonably understood as indicating, an intention to discriminate for any of the above reasons)

• An attempt to put pressure on others to omit to refer for employment any of the above categories of people.

Any employer in deciding who to recruit should ensure that:

• Any qualifications or requirements applied to a job, which effectively inhibit applications from one sex, or from married people, or from different races etc., should be retained only if they are justifiable in terms of the job to be done.

For example, hours requirements should be reviewed to ensure that they do not give rise to unlawful sex discrimination, even if it is done indirectly, by excluding part-timers.

Requests for part-time working should only be refused if the employer can demonstrate objectively that part-time working is not practicable

• Any age limits should be retained only if they are necessary for the job as an unjustifiable age limit for employment could constitute unlawful indirect sex discrimination (e.g. against women who have taken time out of employment for child rearing.

When advertising for people to fill a particular post the following should be areas for consideration:

• Employment advertising should be carried out in such a way as to encourage applications from suitable candidates of both sexes, all races etc.
All advertising material and accompanying literature relating to employment should be reviewed to ensure that it avoids presenting men and women or those from particular racial groups etc in stereotypes roles.

Such stereotyping tends to maintain the issue of sex and race segregation in jobs and can also cause people of the opposite sex or a different racial group to believe that they would be unsuccessful in applying for particular jobs.

• All statements in any employment advertisement which might suggest that membership or non-membership of a union, or deductions in lieu of membership or non-membership, are part of the conditions of access to employment, must be removed.

• Recruitment solely or primarily by word of mouth may unnecessarily restrict the choice of applicants available.

This method should be avoided in a workforce predominantly of either one sex, or race, union members or non-members of a union, if in practice it prevents members of the opposite sex, different racial groups etc, or trade union members from applying.

• Requirements specifying length of residence or experience in the U.K. or laying down particular qualifications should be avoided.

• When notifying vacancies to the Careers Service or to an Employment Agency it should be made clear that these are open to any sex, race, etc or trade union member or non-member. This is especially important when a job has traditionally been done exclusively or mainly by one of these groups.

There will be very few instances in the retail motor industry in which a job will qualify for a Genuine Occupational Qualification on the grounds of sex, race etc.

The Sex Discrimination Act expressly states that the need of the job for strength and stamina does not justify restricting it to men. In some instances the Genuine Occupational Qualification will apply to some of the duties only.

This will not be valid, however, where members of the opposite sex or race etc are already employed in sufficient numbers to meet the employer’s likely requirements without undue inconvenience.

To ensure that they are applying an Equal Opportunity Policy in recruitment the employer should wherever practical record the number of women and men, married and single, different races etc, union and non-union members applying for jobs. The type of vacancy applied for is also relevant.

Where there appear to be discrepancies, employers should:

• Check that recruitment programmes are equally directed at all the above groups, particularly when using Job Centres, Employment Agencies or Educational Institutions

• Check that employment advertisements reach all necessary groups by checking the response rate of the different groups to the advertisement

• Check the text of employment advertisements to ensure that they do not exclude any group of suitable applicants

• Check that any drawings, real life examples or portraits of actual or potential employees do not give the impression that one group rather than another is preferred by the employer and more likely to succeed in the job. For example, portraying one sex only because they are the only sex employed, is not acceptable.

Where vacancies are not advertised the employer should:

• Check that the recruitment procedure does not discriminate either directly or indirectly by placing unjustified restrictions on the type of person to be recruited, for example only male school leavers or single people are coming forward

• Check how the job applicants find out about the vacancies in the company

• Check that job descriptions and person specifications relate to the vacancy rather than the sex, race etc of the jobholder and contain no discriminatory intent. 

This may not be obvious because they have been accepted over the years and never questioned. In particular, age limits, mobility requirements and length or type of experience needed should be queried and removed if they unjustifiably prevent or discourage women, or men, or married people, or particular nationalities, for example, from applying or being considered. 

 In recruiting foreign nationals the employer must ensure there is a valid permit, but must not reject applicants for not having a work permit when they do not need one, nor to demand proof or work entitlement from some job applicants only, otherwise he/she may be guilty of race discrimination.

The employer should ensure that all employees involved in the recruitment process are trained, or have knowledge of, employment law.

Published: 24 Mar 2011


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