How to avoid discrimination while recruiting

How to avoid discrimination in job specs and adverts

With the current UK skills shortage making it harder than ever to attract the best quality candidates to your business, knowing how to make your business really standout amongst the other offerings on the market is a must.

But beware, there are a wide range of legal implications when recruiting with many organisations finding themselves liable for legal action after unintentionally failing to comply with the many legal and non-discriminatory guidelines.

Our four-part mini-series of articles will give you all of the tips of the trade from a qualified and knowledgeable team of experienced recruitment specialists that will enable you to avoid discrimination during the recruitment process.

This week we’ll be focusing our attention on how to avoid discrimination when creating job specs and adverts.


Job specs – what you should and shouldn’t include

By following the ten-step guide below, you’ll be able to create a highly focused and detailed job specification that gives prospective candidates a great overview of the position and the requirements needed to be successful in the role.

1. Job Title & Summary
Develop a job title for the position you’re looking to fill — the title and department (HR Administrator etc.) should accurately reflect the work that the employee will perform. Be sure to choose a job title that reflects your industry’s standards and organisation’s culture. Write a brief description of the purpose of the position and an overview of the position’s main responsibilities.

2. Key Responsibilities
List all of the essential functions of the position – usually between five and 10 responsibilities. Be clear about how what proportion of the employee’s time will be spent with each task.

3. Department & Supervisor
Include details on who the person would report to and where that person fits into the company’s structure.

4. Skills & Qualifications
List all essential and preferred qualifications. Include skills, amount of experience, certifications, licenses, education level and necessary technical proficiencies.

5. Location
Include details on where the position is located. Is travel necessary – what percentage of time will be spent traveling?

6. Type of Employment
Be very clear about whether the position is full-time or part-time.

7. Salary Range & Benefits
Publicise the position’s salary range and benefits, including holiday days, pension, flexible benefits.

8. Physical Requirements
These should be excluded from advertisements unless it can be shown that they are a real requirement of the job that is proportionate to achieve a legitimate aim.

For example, a requirement for a firefighter to pass a physical fitness test is likely to be lawful, but requiring applicants to be of a particular height may not, and may disproportionately exclude women and disabled people.

9. Company Information
Although not a necessity at this stage, it might be worth giving a brief overview of your company, its culture and any key successes of the business or department as this will be a key feature when you come to create your job advert later.

10. Recruiter Contact Information
While it may seem obvious, there are plenty of job listings on the web without contact information. Include contact information so that potential applicants can apply and ask questions.

Using the 10-step framework will give you a valuable tool for moving on to the next step of the recruitment process, the job advert.

Legally compliant job adverts

Many people launch themselves into writing a job advert with little or no knowledge of the legal implications associated with discrimination.

Placing or publishing a discriminatory advert is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010 (‘the Act’). The Act protects individuals from discrimination because of sex, race, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, religion and belief, sexual orientation and age (‘protected characteristics’).

However innocent their intentions might have been, employers are still getting it horribly wrong when attempting to create quirky and attention grabbing adverts that inadvertently favour some protected characteristics over others.

This can have dire consequences for the company brand and lead to legal action being taken in some cases.

When creating an advertisement for your vacancy, it is essential that you check that it meets all legal guidelines and avoids discrimination of any type. It is against the law to discriminate against anyone based on the following nine characteristics below:

•religion or belief
•pregnancy and maternity
•marriage and civil partnership
•sexual orientation
•gender reassignment

The 2010 Equality Act allows an employer to require a job applicant or employee to have a particular protected characteristic when it is genuinely needed for the job, known as an ‘occupational requirement’.

The requirement must be crucial to the post, not just one of several important factors. Where an occupational requirement applies, the employer is required to ensure that imposing the requirement is objectively justifiable.

Occupational requirements may apply where being of a particular sex, race, sexual orientation or age, having a particular disability or religion or belief, or not being married, a civil partner or a transsexual person is a requirement for work.

There are also specific exceptions in the Act permitting jobs to be restricted to a particular group in very limited circumstances, for example, on the basis of religion or belief. Generally, exceptions need to be objectively justified.

If you’d like to find out more about how to avoid discrimination when recruiting, call 01782 338787 or email and let an experienced and knowledgeable recruitment specialist give your job specification and advert a thorough check.