Wednesday, 23 March 2016 10:55

Discrimination during recruitment

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Discrimination during recruitment


Recruiting the right staff can be a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack.  You want to find that one person that ticks all the right boxes – skills, experience, personality, etc.  And so these are the things that most recruiters tend to focus on during the full recruitment process, and rightly so!


However, the legalities of recruitment are often overlooked or ignored completely.  More often than not, recruiters don’t consider the direct or indirect results of discrimination.  One reason may be that there are so many different forms of discrimination that recruiters just aren’t aware of.  These include the following protected characteristics:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Gender reassignment
  • Sexual orientation
  • Race
  • Religious believes
  • Marital status/Civil partnership
  • Pregnancy
  • Disability


There are some key processes that can be put in place to help you avoid potential discrimination claims during the recruitment process.  It’s also important to bear in mind that someone does not have to be employed by you to raise a tribunal against you for discrimination during recruitment.  It may be a rejected candidate that has a claim. 


So here are our top tips for avoiding discrimination during recruitment:

  1. Don’t ask for any potentially discriminatory details on the application form;Stick to the information required to assess their suitability for the post based on experience, skills and qualifications.
  2. Don’t ask for any personal details during the interview; Please do not ask about any of the potential discrimination areas as listed above.  Don’t ask about family plans or children, partners, place of birth, travel arrangements, age or anything that may be related to the above list.
  3. Only check ID documents after you have made the offer of employment; There is massive potential for a discrimination claim if you ask to check personal documentation (birth certificate, passport, etc) before the offer of employment is made.  Legally, you have to check for the right to work in the UK and this should be done before the employment starts, but after the offer of employment has been made.
  4. If you require a medical questionnaire to be completed, ask for it after the offer of employment has been made; Most candidates will assess their own suitability to do the job that they have applied for.  If you have offered employment to a person who you later discover has a disability, you may need to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate them.  You cannot base a recruitment decision based on a candidates medical condition, obesity is also a disability.
  5. Ask consistent questions during the interview; Have a list of main questions prepared that relate only to the post and the candidates ability to carry out the role based on experience, skills, qualifications, etc.  This will help you to have the same structure for each person you interview and reduce the potential for a discrimination claim.
  6. Use an interview scoring system to help assess candidates suitability; By applying a score of 1 to 5 for each answer given by the candidates, you will have a clear record to show who the best candidate is.  Avoid personal scores or comments about appearance or characteristics. 


The average award given to discrimination tribunal claimants during 2014-2015 was just under £7,500 with the highest awards being issued for sex discrimination.  Bear in mind that on top of the discrimination award, employers may also be fined for injury to feelings, loss of earnings and tribunal fees.  This all adds up to a very expensive recruitment error. 


In the recent case of Lucia Pagliarone v Immuno Biotech, Ms Pagliarone was awarded £10,500 for sexism discrimination during her recruitment.  Click here to read the full case. 


Recruitment processes don’t just apply to external candidates.  You must also consider the process for internal recruitment to avoid claims such asRonnie Lungu v Wiltshire Police.  You can click here to read the details of this internal discrimination during recruitment case. 


So, the questions is…. Are your recruitment processes keeping you safe from discrimination tribunal claims?   If you’re not sure, give us a call on 01382 250333 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Our qualified HR consultants will review your current recruitment processes to ensure you stay safe from expensive tribunals.  


Read 7171 times Last modified on Wednesday, 23 March 2016 11:07

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