Firms need watertight recruitment policies

Employers must sharpen up their recruitment policies or they will face legal action from employees making use of the growing raft of employment legislation, experts have warned.

Speaking at the IPD Recruitment and Selection conference last week, head of the Manchester Metropolitan University Law School Professor Patricia Leighton and lecturer Giles Proctor urged employers to tighten up their recruitment procedures.

Otherwise employers will fall foul of the Disability Discrimination Act, the Data Protection Act or the Human Rights Act, due in October, they explained.

Proctor warned companies could be sued for discrimination if they advertised in magazines that were deemed discriminatory against certain social groups or did not advertise posts externally.

But he added, “The laws apply if there is something that can be done within reason to solve these problems, but no action is taken.”

Leighton warned employers to train all staff conducting interviews to avoid any legal problems caused by comments which could be construed as discriminatory. Interview panels are particularly at risk from ley members who were not aware of the new regulations, she claimed.

Addressing delegates, Leighton said, “These laws could be some of the most influential introduced since the English legal system began.

“The overall requirement is that transparency is retained throughout the recruitment process and the candidate must be warned at all stages.

“The burden of proof falls on you to show that your procedures are fair rather than the employee proving they are unfair.”

She added, “Employers will be required to justify that their procedures are reasonable and not discriminatory. In effect, the recruiter will have to convince a tribunal or court that the process did not unlawfully discriminate – rather than the applicant having to show that it did.”

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