If you cut corners both before and during the interview process, you could find yourself discriminating against a potential candidate. In the worst case scenario you could have to pay hefty compensation if your business is taken to an employment tribunal.
In the latest of our Turbervilles Solicitors legal columns, I’ve got some top tips to avoid the legal pitfalls:
Do make sure you write a detailed job description and profile of the candidate so that you/anyone involved in the selection process is clear and does not veer off the track.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to make sure the recruitment process offers equal opportunities and that any potential candidates are not discriminated against on the grounds of their sex, race, disability, age, sexual orientation or religion and belief. In the legal word we call these grounds “protected characteristics”.
Be careful on the wording of advertisements and that you don’t indirectly discriminate against a candidate with protected characteristics. Asking for someone who is “young and dynamic” or someone with a “university education” may seem fair, but you could end up in hot water if a potential candidate who does not have these attributes chooses to challenge you and take you to a tribunal.
What looks like a benefit for future employees may not be appealing to all – a pool table and fridge stocked with beer may not appeal to women.
Be careful where you choose to advertise your role. For example if you choose to advertise your role solely in a woman’s magazine, it could be seen as indirectly discriminatory against men, on the basis they are less likely to see it.
Be careful when advertising directly on social media channels such as LinkedIn, as a candidates may directly or indirectly include details about their, age, sex and race, which could get you in hot water. Keep all responses with the candidate strictly professional and as recent news in the media has shown, never positively comment on someone’s physical appearance.
Request details from candidates that are age, sex and race neutral, in that, names and dated of education/employment history are omitted.
Ahead of the interview make sure you prepare questions and wherever possible make sure you ask all candidates the same questions. Train the interviewers to properly record their answers to questions and avoid doodling on question papers – as unwitting remarks could be held against you.
Do make sure that any selection tests are looking for skills and related experience relevant to the job description. You may also have to adjust the tests to ensure any appropriate qualified person with a disability isn’t at a disadvantage. Make sure you give candidates an opportunity to notify you of any adjustments needed before the interview process takes place.
Until you have made a decision who to hire, do not seek details about an individual’s medical history including requests for any sickness records or asking health related questions at the interview.
Offer unsuccessful candidates feedback on why they were not successful. Disgruntled candidates who receive a generic letter may consider there was an ulterior motive why they were not successful at the interview stage.
Above all be fair, transparent and consistent.
Marc Jones is a partner and specialist in employment law at Turbervilles Solicitors.
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