Recruitment - Top Ten Tips from an Employment Law Specialist

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Recruitment can be legal minefield – especially for small businesses. Care should be taken to not discriminate against any of the candidates on the basis of, for example, race, marital status and disability. So before you press ahead with adverts and interviews, Simpson Millar LLP has some top tips for you:

  • If drafted well a job description will help attract the right candidates and, likewise, discourage recruitment practices which might be considered discriminatory. So to start with make sure that all criteria are objective – spelling out which are absolutely essential and which are merely desirable.
  • Avoid using words or phrases such as ‘male’ or ‘under 25 years old’ which are almost always unacceptable and discriminatory.
  • Take care before using phrases such as ‘willingness to work long hours’. This could indirectly discriminate against women who are more likely to have the primary child care role and could therefore be less able to meet this requirement.
  • Take care when deciding where to advertise the job. Placing a single recruitment advert in a publication which is considered to be read almost exclusively by either men or women could suggest that you have purposely limited your audience on the basis of gender. Again this might be considered to be discrimination.
  • Ideally all applications and candidates should be assessed by two people independently to ensure objectivity.

Recruitment – Top Tips for Small Businesses

  • When drawing up a shortlist always remember to refer back to the selection criteria listed in the job description.
  • You are required by law to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. Therefore, before begging the interview process, ask all candidates if they need any special arrangements such as wheelchair access or documents with large print.
  • During the interview process, make sure that all questions only relate directly to the candidates’ ability to do the job. Prepare a list of questions and ask them in the same order for all candidates to ensure consistency. Be cautious of small talk. Seemingly innocuous discussions about a candidate’s family and personal life may be misinterpreted and could potentially lead to a claim.
  • Make sure that offer letters and employment contracts comply with Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act which sets out the minimum that is required in relation to for example pay and working hours. At this stage it would be wise to seek legal advice to make sure that the document meets your needs and legal obligations.
  • If you decide to make a conditional offer which is subject to for example satisfactory references, CRB checks or a work permit this must be stated clearly in the offer letter.


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