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Recruitment: Dealers put on guard over new equality law

A law to be introduced later this year mean that automotive management will need to be more careful when it comes to sex, ethnic minority and age discrimination.

The Equality Bill, announced by equalities minister Harriet Harman, plans to allow firms to discriminate in favour of female and non-white job candidates.

This positive discrimination will only be possible when candidates are equally qualified for the job.

However, Steve Dewison, managing director of Brunswick Recruitment, said he does not see much discrimination in the motor industry, particularly in sales: “Dealers are open to considering females – it’s important to have a balance between men and women on a sales team.”

But changes to maternity and paternity leave, which will allow new parents to have up to 12 months off work, are likely to have a detrimental impact, said Dewison.

“Employers generally are going to think a lot harder before employing anybody.

“It is most likely to affect the age of new recruits.

Subconsciously, people in their late 30s and 40s might be favoured because they are unlikely to have child-related issues.

Of course, this won’t be voiced because it would be considered as discrimination,” he said. The biggest burden from such laws fall on small businesses, which account for more than half of the motor industry.

“With the best intentions, a lot of these laws don’t actually work in practice,” Dewison said.

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