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29th May 2015

Avoiding discrimination when recruiting

Large group of people.

I often talk to employers, and a common concern is unwittingly discriminating during the recruitment process. Is what they are saying going to end up leaving them in trouble? Now, I can’t guarantee anything, but if you follow this advice it will certainly reduce the risk of any potential claims that may come out of the blue and land on your desk. The key places to start are:

  • The job description and the person specification. You may use the same information that you have been using for the past five years but rather than simply using it again, review it first. I’m sure there will be some amendments that will need to be made to the documents.
  • Have an awareness of The Equality Act 2010, which legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace.
  • There are nine characteristics that are protected by law, and the Act also details behaviour that is unlawful. It was introduced to assist the UK in becoming a fairer society, and to improve services. You can find details of these protected characteristics, and an explanation of behaviour that would be unlawful discrimination, in the Act itself, or in the QCS Equality and Diversity Policy and Procedure.
  • The person specification should itemise the key qualities that you seek in the person or people whom you will appoint. The qualities need to be non-discriminatory in relation to those nine protected characteristics.
  • Educate your staff on the importance of getting recruitment right. Employers are liable for employees’ actions whilst they are employed; the employee could also be individually liable for their actions. A day’s training course would reduce your risk of claims and provide a strong defence were you to receive a claim.
  • Share the interviewing with a colleague; this provides another person’s opinion of the candidate and how they performed during their interview. It reduces the risk of personal prejudice and provides a defence if accusations are made subsequently. Diversity in the interview panel can be favourable.
  • Never assume anything - e.g. is the candidate too old or too young? - focus only on the facts. Do they have the correct experience, qualifications, knowledge and skills to do the job?
  • Record details of how you arrived at your decision. Rate each interviewee against the qualities in your person specification and you will make a safe decision.

With care, training and suitable measures in place, businesses can stop worrying that they may be saying or doing the wrong thing.

Anita Manfredi of Employer Solutions – QCS HR Expert Contributor

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

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