20 February 2020
LGBT History Awareness Month – are your staff recruitment policies inclusive?
To mark LGBT History Awareness Month, Hannah King, senior associate in employment, highlights the importance of employers implementing non-discriminatory recruitment policies, which are inclusive of everyone applying for a job, regardless of their sexuality or gender; and what steps they need to take to achieve this.
The Ava Moore case is a timely reminder of how employers can find themselves on the wrong end of a discrimination decision, when there are inadequate recruitment processes in place within its organisation. Ms Moore, from Northern Ireland, claimed she was not offered a job by Debenhams because she was transgender and was subsequently awarded £9,000 after successfully winning her case against the retail giant.
All employers need to consider the Equality Act 2010, which states that they must not discriminate or victimise a person:
- In the arrangements it makes for deciding to whom to offer employment
- As to the terms on which it offers a person employment
- By not offering a person employment
There are therefore several stages of the recruitment process where an employer can risk falling foul of the Equality Act. This could include:
- Advertising the vacancy;
- Selection and shortlisting for interview;
- Decided who to offer the job to;
- The terms on which the offer is made.
Liability for acts of discrimination in recruitment can lay with either the employer or with the individuals themselves or both. Employers may have a defence against suggestions of discrimination and subsequent litigation, if they can show that they took all reasonable steps to prevent the discrimination occurring.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced a Statutory Code which includes some practical steps on how to comply with the legislation which includes:
1. Documenting all aspects of decision making throughout the recruitment process in relation to a particular applicant. This should cover everything from shortlisting to appointment. These records should also demonstrate that a selection decision was based on objective evidence of the candidate's ability to do the job satisfactorily, and not on assumptions or prejudices about the capabilities of certain groups of people sharing protected characteristics.
a) Other important documentation includes, job description, person specification, selection criteria, any written tests, notes on shortlisting, interview questions, notes of interview, records showing those involvement in recruitment had appropriate training.
2. Training in the interview process - the EHRC Code states, employers need to be able to show that all staff involved in the selection process had received training on the employer's equality policy and its application to recruitment, including interviewing techniques to help them:
- Recognise when they are making stereotyped assumptions about people;
- Apply a scoring method objectively;
- Prepare questions based on the person specification, and the information in the application form;
- Avoid questions that are not relevant to the requirements of the job.
3. Retention - while it is important that adequate records are kept, to ensure compliance with Data Protection legislation, these should be kept no longer than is necessary.