Thanks to The Gloss’ “Look the
Business” who recently chatted with Geraldine King, CEO of the National
Recruitment Federation, for an update on employment law for employers…
‘Persons with young children need not apply’
appeared in an online Dublin job advert last year. It was promptly and widely
condemned as blatant discrimination, and quickly removed.
Although discrimination is not widespread in
Ireland, according to the National Recruitment Federation, employers can
inadvertently find themselves in trouble if they are not up to speed with
employee rights, especially when it comes to equality issues.
New Employment Act
2018 Employment Act came into effect in March 2019 to give employees greater
clarity around working hours. Within five days of starting work, all new
employees must now get a contract of employment or a statement containing (at
least) five core terms of their employment, including the anticipated duration
of their contract and the pay and hours expected.
contracts essentially must be discontinued, apart from some limited exceptions,
and all employment contracts should be reviewed to ensure employees who
regularly work over their contracted hours get a contract that accurately
reflects their working arrangement.
employment laws, including The Equality Acts, seek to outlaw discrimination and
unfairness in recruitment and in the workplace. These apply to all employees
and agency workers, full-time, part-time or contracted, in both the public and
grounds of discrimination are covered: age, disability, gender, sexual
orientation, family status, marital status, race, religion, and membership of
the travelling community.
Mind your language
online ad mentioned above seeking an office worker without children showed a
pretty blatant disregard for equality law that most people would be conscious
of. Marital and family circumstances have no place in the recruitment process,
not even as an ‘ice breaker’ during an interview. Role titles in a job ad
should not be gender specific, so employers must avoid terms like ‘waitress’,
‘barmaid’, ‘salesman’ or ‘manageress’. Other more subtle terms can be equally
judged unacceptable. Looking for a ‘young and dynamic’ individual to join your
team is out; both the age reference and dynamism can be a problem. Equally,
‘mature candidates’ should not be highlighted.
No experience needed
you can advertise a role that demands a minimum level of skills or training for
operational purposes, job adverts for candidates with ‘no more than 2-3 years’
experience’ can fall foul of the standards. Rather than asking for a certain
amount of experience or years spent in a position, employers should focus on
the required skills.
from needing to be over 18 to sell certain products, an individual’s age
shouldn’t affect their ability to do a job effectively. On race, it’s fine to
look for a French-speaking account manager, for example, but restricting the
position to ‘a native French speaker’ is not. A requirement to speak a language
fluently is all that can be asked, not that English, or any other language, is
your first language.
Publish and be damned
discriminatory advertising, it’s not only the person who produced the offending
copy who is in trouble. Those publishing it online, or in any media, can
equally be held responsible. Have a failsafe in place, ideally a recruitment
agency, to check your advertising and recruitment process to ensure regulations
are adhered to.
interview process demands experienced HR or recruitment personnel, conscious of
questioning that may be termed discriminatory. An employee or manager that the
prospective recruit will report to may sit in, but it isn’t wise for anyone
untrained to conduct a job interview, and certainly not alone.
it comes to potential pitfalls, any mention of a woman being capable or
confident in a male-dominated role or business is ill-advised, and vice versa.
How an individual would cope with having a younger boss or being the oldest
person in the department is also off-limits. Questions about sickness, health,
or disabilities, like how many sick-days you had last year, should be avoided.
relating to marriage plans, family intentions, children, age, physical ability
and even distance from work or access to transport should not be asked. Use a
‘statement‐question’ approach, such as ‘this role can require working into the
evening; do you have a problem with that?’ but never ‘do you have kids to take
Notes and feedback
transparency in the interview process, use the same pre-determined questions,
making notes on why each candidate was successful or not. The grounds on which
a decision was reached, and how different candidates rated under the same
role-related criteria, must be outlined. And these should be kept for at least
a year after the recruitment process.
is also recommended to give clear well-explained reasons to unsuccessful
candidates as to why they were not selected, as well as constructive feedback.
A good selection procedure is driven by the demands and requirements of the
role alone; judge candidates only on their skills and abilities relating to the
job, and you won’t go wrong.