What does the law say about recruiting?

We’re thinking a lot about recruitment this month as we’re looking for another employment law advisor to join our team. You can read more about that here

We often get asked by clients what the law says around recruitment. Other areas of employment law have fixed procedures that must be followed. Recruitment is different. There isn’t just one legally acceptable way to recruit a new employee. The important thing from a legal perspective is not to discriminate, directly or indirectly, in recruitment practices.

This means that you need to think carefully about job descriptions and criteria. For instance, you should normally steer clear of job titles or criteria that point towards a particular sex (e.g. advertise for waiting staff, not a waiter or waitress).

If certain criteria would be harder for people to meet because of a “protected characteristic” (age, sex, race, religious belief etc), think it through carefully before finalising the criteria. If you believe that you need someone of a certain protected characteristic, you should make clear in your recruitment literature why this is the case and assert that there is an occupational requirement that the post-holder must, for instance, be female or hold a particular religious belief.

While there are a variety of acceptable ways to recruit, this is the outline of a recruitment and selection procedure we normally advocate when advising clients:-

1. Start with the job description. Make sure it captures what the job will involve

2. Set criteria – what experience and skills will the person need to perform the duties contained in the job description?

3. Advertise the position – in a variety of places – on job boards, your own social media channels etc

4. Send interested parties an application form (we prefer application forms to CVs for a few reasons that may be the subject of a future article so watch this space)

5. Short-list candidates. Be strict and don’t shortlist anyone who doesn’t demonstrate that they meet all the essential criteria

6. Interview your short-listed candidates – try to have a balanced interview panel in terms of age, gender and background if possible. Keep notes from the interview and keep a note of each interviewer’s scores for each candidate

7. Hold a second interview, if necessary – this could be a more informal chat or involve delivering a presentation

8. Make an offer to your preferred candidate. Your offer should be conditional upon receipt of satisfactory references and anything else appropriate to the role (e.g. clear criminal background check)

9. Once the conditions of the offer are met, confirm the commencement of the person’s employment

While there will be variations on this outline from case to case, following this format should give you the best chance of finding the right person for the role without it being open to challenge as discriminatory.

For advice on this or anything else to do with employing people, please contact us.


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