How top HR professionals are avoiding discrimination in interviews

November 5th 2019 | Posted by phil scott

How top HR professionals are avoiding discrimination in interviews

While most employers head into a job interview with the best intentions for their business, it’s easy to overlook a potential future employee’s rights.

We all know that employment law in the UK can be complex and often confusing, which is why the best HR professionals ensure that employers stay vigilant and have a solid understanding of the law to avoid any unwanted legal fallouts.

It’s easy to break the law if you forget the basics of modern human rights, which can leave employers facing an employment tribunal.

As such, here’s the knowledge that top HR professionals have in order to hold positive job interviews that welcome diverse backgrounds.

Main legal responsibilities towards job candidates

There are nine protected characteristics in UK law. They should be kept these in mind for any activities across a business. These are:

  • Age
  • Gender reassignment
  • Married or civil partnership
  • Pregnancy or maternity
  • Disability
  • Race (colour, nationality, ethnic, national origin)
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Pertaining to job interviews (and that includes what to write on a job specification) these nine protected characteristics must be respected.

In short, the best HR professionals provide advice to employers to ensure they are not left open to claims of discrimination.

Equality law influences the way job interviews and candidates advertisements are held.

The essential interview tactics to follow

Even if a business has the best intentions, employers may break the law with their hiring strategy. A slight error of judgement and it can be discrimination

HR professionals turn to the Equality Act 2010 for key laws about this issue, which is an essential piece of employment legislation. It provides laws to adhere to so employers avoid discrimination. These include:

  • What to avoid when writing a job specification (such as avoiding age discrimination, or suggesting the role is only for men).
  • How to advertise the role (not suggesting it’s for only applicable to a certain gender).
  • Who to select for an interview (stopping unconscious biases that may make employers favour certain types of applicants).
  • How to conduct the interview (which can include making provisions to support disabled candidates).
  • Making a hiring decision (using fair and consistent selection criteria).
  • Making a job offer fair and consistent with other similar employees within the business.

HR professionals advise management to check with job candidates to see if “reasonable adjustments” are required. This is particularly important for any disabled candidates.

They should also check with employees if they have the right to work in the UK. If this doesn’t happen, it may result in a fine as high as £20,000 for hiring an employee who doesn’t have the right to work here. That’s irrespective of their suitability for the role.

Equal pay must be provided in the same role. The Gender Pay Gap is an annual requirement for businesses with 250 employees or more. Ignoring this can also result in serious fines and a tarnished public reputation. Again, this relates to how gender is a protected characteristic.

Top HR professionals know this is a complex topic and that the best way to avoid discriminating is to keep the nine protected characteristics in mind when creating a new role.

Again, this relates to how gender is a protected characteristic. Another example of potentially breaking this is if you’re a boss who believes women should state if they’re pregnant in an interview.

The best HR professionals always keep a record of all documentation in the event a legal dispute does come about.

Getting legal assistance

The above points are merely a brief look at the legal responsibilities when hiring a new employee.

It’s a complex issue for trained professionals in employment law. Knowledge centres such as CIPD’s recruitment guide for further information are available as well as legal services that are available across the UK.

Compensation payouts for claims of discrimination can be unlimited. So it’s always the right approach to seek employment law advice as and when needed

Thank you to Alan Price from Pennisula for providing this guest post. If you are interested in contributing to our blog, please email [email protected]

About the Author

Alan Price is senior director for the multi-award winning employment law consultancy, Peninsula; managing director of Peninsula Ireland and Elected Director & Trustee for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development – CIPD.  His wealth of expertise means he is often sought for advice by business leaders and to provide comment to the media including the Daily Telegraph, Sky News, Sunday Times, Financial Adviser by the FT, Lloyds and Santander and Guardian Newspaper.