Employers should remember that claims of alleged discrimination do not only come from employees, but that it is also possible for individuals to allege unlawful discrimination during the recruitment and selection process.
It may be helpful to remember the following tips:-
Keep comprehensive records and documentary evidence of recruitment and selection exercises. If this is done, employers should be better placed to show that they took reasonably practicable steps to prevent unlawful discrimination.
Be able to show that all staff involved in the selection process have received training on the employer’s Equality Policy and its application to recruitment, including interviewing techniques.
The steps an employer takes to prepare its employees to undertake recruitment exercises is, in addition to being part of best practice, part of ensuring that it can rely on the “reasonable steps” defence if a job applicant argues that the employer is vicariously liable for the discriminatory conduct of those responsible for carrying out the recruitment exercise.
All forms of job advertisement are caught by anti-discrimination legislation and therefore the content of all adverts should be carefully considered for a potentially discriminatory content prior to publication.
Remember that you may be under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to the recruitment and selection process for disabled applicants – this may involve providing and accepting information in accessible formats, such as e-mail, Braille, large print, audio format and other data formats as may be requested.
Where possible more than one person should be involved in shortlisting candidates; the marking system should be agreed before the applications are assessed, and applied consistently to all applications; where more than one person is involved in the selection process, each person should mark the applications separately, before agreeing to a final mark; selection should be based only on information provided by the applicant.
At the interview, avoid asking irrelevant questions that may be perceived to relate to protected characteristics. For example, questions about childcare arrangements, living arrangements or plans to get married or to have children should be avoided.
Provide feedback, if requested, to unsuccessful candidates. Feedback can be written or oral and should be provided in a sensitive manner, with any negative comments or criticisms relating only to the applicant’s failure to meet the requirements of the role.
Offers of employment should be made conditional on receipt of references which are satisfactory to the employer.
Consider whether a probationary period is appropriate – in all but very short term contracts, a probationary period is advisable.