A Guide to Recruiting Staff and Discrimination
Recruiting staff like many other areas of employment law, can be tricky. However by following the advice below, employers should be able to avoid the basic mistakes and in particular avoid discrimination claims.
The Employment Law team at our Salisbury, Fordingbridge Andover and Amesbury offices can advise you on any issues surrounding discrimination law or employment law in general. We represent clients on employment law issues throughout Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and Hampshire – and further afield.
Recruitment – The First Hurdle
When advertising for a new member of staff, specify only skills and knowledge which are a genuine requirement of the post on offer, avoiding requirements which disadvantage a particular group of people and which could constitute unlawful discrimination. Preparing a job description or specification can help in the process of analysing the exact needs of the job. The selection process must be seen to be objective and open at all stages. Selection criteria should be established at the outset and consistently applied to all candidates. These should relate directly to the requirements of the job and must be clear, precise and objective. Avoid making stereotypical assumptions. Make sure arrangements are in place to enable any disabled applicants to attend for interview. Where possible, ensure that more than one person carries out the interview and that all candidates are asked the same questions. Deciding on the wording of the questions in advance is a good way of ensuring equal treatment and of avoiding careless use of language.
The successful candidate should be offered the job subject to any conditions, such as satisfactory references etc. A copy of your terms of employment, receipted by the successful candidate, will reduce the likelihood of later disputes as to what was agreed. Providing feedback after the interview process, to explain to unsuccessful candidates why they were not chosen, could reduce the likelihood of a discrimination compensation claim.
Written Statement of Employment Particulars
All employees must be given a written statement setting out the main particulars of their employment, provided their employment lasts for one month or more. This must normally be given within two months of the start of the employment and may be contained in the contract of employment. If the employee is to work abroad for more than one month within two months of commencing employment, it must be provided before the employee goes abroad.
All employers must operate minimum statutory dismissal, disciplinary and grievance procedures and provide details of these in the written statement of particulars or refer the employee to an accessible document specifying these.
Contracts and the Staff Handbook
Contracts with employees should be tailored to suit your business. Subsequent variations to the contract must be approved by the employee. In addition to contractual arrangements, you should have a staff handbook detailing practices and procedures which are to be followed, for example with regards to health and safety, details of the dismissal, disciplinary and grievance procedures and other standard operating procedures. It is advisable to consult with trade unions or staff representatives when developing or making changes to the company rules. It’s also sensible if one person carries out the interview and that all candidates are asked the same questions. Deciding on the wording of the questions in advance is a good way of ensuring equal treatment and of avoiding careless use of language.
As with other aspects of employment law, it’s crucial that the correct procedures followed. If they doubt, employers would be well advised to take advice from specialist employment solicitors. A little time spent on getting the basics right should avoid the risk of expensive discrimination compensation or other Employment Tribunal Claims.