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Watch out for legal pitfalls in job adverts

With recruitment legislation becoming increasingly complicated, Louise Donaldson, a solicitor and member of Pinsents employment group, believes creating a policy to govern this issue is crucial.

Introducing a recruitment policy not only helps employers find the most suitable person for a job but could also protect an organization if the process goes wrong.

Looking at each stage and how it is handled is essential, from advertising the position, through selection and interview to finally offering the job and appointing the successful candidate.

The most recent legislation to affect job ads is the Age Discrimination Act, which must be adhered to along with the Sex and Race Discrimination Acts.

“Gender-neutral language should be used and nothing within an advert should indicate a predisposition to employ a specific gender or race,” says Donaldson. “Regard of the Sex Discrimination Act is especially important in a male-dominated industry.”

Selection criteria should be objective and no stereotypical assumptions should be made when considering candidates for interview.

“For example, just because a job involves heavy lifting does not mean female candidates should be excluded,” says Donaldson.

When considering disabled candidates, it is important that an employer’s policy ensures that they are not disadvantaged in the recruitment process. Applicants who wish to work on a part-time basis must also be fairly considered as a refusal could adversely affect one gender. This could give rise to a sex discrimination complaint.

Once an employer has decided on a successful candidate, the position should be offered subject to the conditions of employment set out in the recruitment policy. A copy of these should be sent to the candidate in order to minimize the chances of any disputes following the signing of contracts.

Unsuccessful candidates have no legal right to receive information on why they have not been chosen for the role, but they can ask to see the employer’s recruitment papers.

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