Burden of proof of fair practice to fall on employers

Employers advertising in the classified columns of The Lady or
male-orientated sports magazines could fall foul of changes to discrimination
laws that come into effect in 2005.

Another casualty of a tranche of legislation from Europe is likely to be the
‘old-boy network’ as restricting recruitment to internal candidates could break
the law.

Under the changes, the burden of proof for fair practice will shift to
employers. This will mean ensuring jobs are advertised in media likely to be
seen by both sexes and all races.

Recruiters could also find themselves in trouble if they ask for
qualifications only available in the UK.

Patricia Leighton, professor of European law at Glamorgan University and a
specialist in international and European employment law, said: "Unless an
employer can justify asking for UK qualifications, or qualifications in the
English language, because they are vital to the job concerned, they shouldn’t
specify them. And if they pay interview expenses to candidates based in the UK
they must also pay them to candidates based abroad."

Her warnings come in her book Recruiting within the Law, (co-authored with
Giles Proctor), which has been published by the Chartered Institute of
Personnel and Development.

"The overall requirement of the law is transparency in the recruitment
process," said Leighton. "It requires the decision-making process to
be open and fair.  The law is requiring
decisions to be based on the qualifications, skills and experience of
applicants, to the exclusion of background and personal characteristics."

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