Did you know that it’s actually unlawful, under the Equality Act 2010, to discriminate on the grounds of certain protected characteristics such as sex, race, ethnicity, disability, age, gender reassignment, religion, pregnancy, marriage/partnership or belief? The risks of getting the recruitment process wrong can result in being accused of discrimination and being taken to an Industrial Tribunal. This will be damaging for any business and could be particularly catastrophic for SMEs.

Here’s our short guide which explains how you can avoid discriminating when growing your team.

Fail to prepare is to prepare to fail

It’s important that you spend time at the beginning of the process carefully considering the role and requirements of the position you are hiring for. You should create a pre-determined role profile which establishes the key criteria that the successful candidate should meet to successfully fulfil your requirements. This profile should be strictly adhered to throughout the process to ensure that you recruit ONLY to meet the specifications in this profile and do not consider external factors, that could be considered discriminatory.

Use this role profile to create a detailed job description and person specification documents. In these documents, you should clearly describe the daily duties of the role and the skills required from the successful candidate. The duties outlined must be ESSENTIAL for the post as well as RELEVANT, NON-DISCRIMINATORY, and JUSTIFIABLE requirements. This not only ensures you attract the right candidates but also protects you as an employer.

Have a written selection policy

Add an extra layer of protection to your recruitment process by ensuring you have a written policy covering your selection process. This should cover the content of the job advertisement and selection procedures and how to conduct interviews. Train all interviewers thoroughly on this process to ensure there are no breaks in the chain.

Document genuine occupational requirements

There are times when you genuinely need to positively discriminate. For example, if you require a male only nurse to care for male patients to protect their dignity. In these instances, it is justifiable to discriminate but it’s always best to check with the Equal Opportunities Commission http://www.eoc.org.uk/ to ensure you are compliant with your legal obligations.

Be careful with the language you use

When creating job descriptions, adverts or person specifications, be careful with the language you use. Phrases like “fit” or “energetic” could be seen to discriminate against those with disabilities while requiring a minimum number of years’ experience could equally be seen to discriminate on the basis of age.

Have an equal opportunities statement

It’s always good practice to feature your equal opportunities statement in your job advertisement to demonstrate your commitment right from the start.

Make reasonable adjustments for the right candidate

You are legally obliged to recruit the person who best fits your job profile. If they tick all the boxes of your person specification but have a disability, you are legally obliged to consider making an adjustment to the role, your business or premises to enable them to perform their duties.

You are able to request information from applicants as to whether they have special requirements to undertake the role. This will enable you to make any adjustments required to enable them to attend an interview.

Structured and systematic interviewing

At the interview stage, you should have clearly defined selection criteria and weightings that are objectively justifiable. Questions should correspond directly to the job description and you should have a standardised scoring system. This will help you objectively evaluate all candidates on their SUITABILITY FOR THE ROLE only and not on other factors.

Test with caution

Tests are required sometimes to assess a candidate’s experience or suitability. For example, if the role requires candidates to be competent using a certain piece of software. Tests should only be used if they are both relevant and justifiable for the selection process. There should be no discriminatory aspect to the test and the business should make reasonable adjustments to allow every candidate to take the test.

Document everything

By documenting every part of your recruitment process you can ensure that your recruitment decisions are justifiable should you ever be challenged on your decision. Make sure you keep records for at least 12 months.

Equal opportunities monitoring

It’s good practice as a business to collect information for equal opportunities monitoring but this information should be kept completely separate from the selection panel. Selectors should never be provided with this information.

Summary

It is vital to consider every aspect of your recruitment process to ensure you are protected from being accused of discrimination. Always ensure that every part of the process is relevant, non-discriminatory and objectively justifiable. For professional advice on your recruitment process or equal opportunities policies, contact us by calling 0330 555 1139 or email us at hello@crossehr.co.uk.