Business Law & Compliance

Employment hurdles: The logistics of finding someone qualified

7 min read

26 August 2015

Advertising, recruitment, interviews and selection require careful evaluation if you’re going to ensure you employ the right person. With this in mind, Donna Sharp, solicitor in KPMG’s employment legal services team, covers what you should think about when hiring.

Where do you want to recruit?

Consider where you want to advertise the role: what kind of applicants do you want? Where you place your recruitment message will influence the kind of applicants you get.

Free platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can be great for this, if you make sure you’re posting in relevant groups and using relevant hashtags. If you’re looking to employ a candidate with particular qualifications you might want to consider paying to advertise the job on relevant websites – or with a recruitment consultant. However, estimate the return on your investment first.

Adverts also need to be carefully worded to limit the risk of discrimination claims. The 2010 Equality Act protects job applicants, so if you do not offer an applicant a job, they could challenge your recruitment on any of the protected grounds (including age, gender, race, pregnancy, maternity leave). Avoid using words or phrases which could be perceived as belonging to a discriminatory recruitment process, such as requiring “young” or “male/female” candidates. Instructions to recruitment consultants need to be worded carefully too, as an employer can be held liable for discriminatory acts of a recruiter.

Bear in mind that if you’re not taking on your first employee and you’re considering recruiting internally, you also need to advertise the role internally to avoid any perception of favorourtism/discrimination.

Read more about discrimination:

How should you interview candidates?

Try to keep the interview process consistent – a standardised list of questions and hypothetical scenarios is the best way of ensuring that you can compare candidates fairly. Think about exactly what skills and qualities you think are necessary for the role and ask open questions to lead the candidate. Starting with “Tell me about a time when…” is a great way to find out how your candidate would deal with the specifics of working with you.

Make sure you know what you should and should not ask a candidate. Be sure to steer away from questions that could lead to discrimination claims – questioning if someone is married, planning a family or has children are all questions that shouldn’t affect whether or not you consider offering a candidate the job, so do not ask about them.

How should you select candidates?

The selection process should be as objective as possible and based on the calibre of the candidates. Try to avoid any subjective considerations which are vulnerable to allegations of discrimination. Above all else, you should record your reasons for selecting the right candidate.

Don’t rely on the candidate’s CV and what they’ve said in the interview – do some research. Check the candidate’s qualifications and obtain references. Employers also have a legal obligation to check that everyone they employ has the right to work in the UK so make sure you carry out the necessary checks.

Once you have found the right candidate, offer the role – it’s prudent to do this in writing even if you make contact verbally first – and you can offer the proposed employment contract immediately or follow up with the contract once they have accepted the job.

Make sure that you incorporate all terms in the contract so that both parties can rely on what’s written down. Contracts usually have an “entire agreement clause” which means that the contract includes everything agreed between the parties – so conversations you may have had a few weeks previously that are not incorporated into the contract are not binding to either party.

Negotiating with a potential employee

Once you’ve made an offer of employment your candidate may start negotiating wages and terms. How do you know how much you should pay them?

Consider market analysis from specialists, or ask recruitment consultants for some steer. Also consider what you pay your current workforce doing similar roles. Be careful that you do not inadvertently pay men and women differently.

Don’t limit yourself to salary – think about the whole remuneration package. Will you offer a bonus, commission or any benefits like a gym membership or health insurance? Think about what you can afford to offer – incentives can be key in making your staff feel valued and boosting their productivity.

If you’re worried about how much you may have to negotiate, you can offer fixed terms, limiting which areas are negotiable, such as salary only and you may want to agree a date for accepting the proposed terms, to limit the period of negotiation.

Don’t promise anything during negotiations you don’t want to commit to. In the contract, you will usually record everything that has been agreed and the entire agreement clause will ensure that discussions leading up to the contract are overridden by the contractual terms. Be aware employees may challenge this at a future point if you have promised something valuable to them – a pay rise, bonus or promotion, for example.

Donna Sharp is a solicitor in KPMG’s employment legal services team.