With the British economy on the road to recovery, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of jobs being advertised. But employers trying to fill vacancies should beware – discrimination claims could be lurking before you’ve read a single application!
The Equality Act 2010 not only protects employees against discrimination in the workplace, but also any potential applicants. That’s why it’s vital that employers take care over what they say in their advertisements.
Avoid Discrimination Claims
Inappropriate wording could bear the risk of a discrimination claim being brought against employers. For example, placing an advert for a ‘waitress’ could bring a claim for sex discrimination as it may deter men from applying, whereas advertising for ‘waiting staff’ would eliminate such risk. Other examples include advertising for an Italian, rather than someone ‘Italian speaking’ to avoid race discrimination, and avoiding words like ‘youthful’ and ‘mature’ to avoid age discrimination.
Discrimination covers a broad range of characteristics, including things like gender and disability, and it’s imperative that employers and their recruitment agencies think carefully before composing an advert for a job vacancy. That’s right, even recruitment agencies can find themselves liable for following their client’s discriminatory requests.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, and these are known as ‘occupational requirements’. For example, a play requiring actors of a certain race, or a Catholic school requiring a Catholic head teacher. However, caution needs to be exercised when relying upon the defence of an occupational requirement. Seeking advice before using an occupational requirement as a legitimate reason for discrimination is strongly recommended.
Advice for Employers
To employers in general, my advice would be to ensure that there is a clear, structured procedure within your business for recruitment, and that you follow the exact same process for each individual applicant. Also, it is highly recommended that you keep a clear record of all adverts, interviews and notes made throughout the application process to reflect how decisions were made. A clear paper trail will assist you in a tribunal if a discrimination claim is brought against you.
If you would like to discuss how the above could impact your business in more detail, please get in touch and my team and I will be able to assist you.