The outlook for the UK economy remains gloomy, with graduates reportedly facing the worst job market in a generation. Here, Sara Booth, employment specialist at Shoosmiths LLP, looks at how recruiters can select the best candidates without falling foul of the law.
Graduate recruitment programmes require a significant investment of time and resources. The process does not end simply with appointing the right candidate; it continues throughout their career. As technology develops and regulation increases, it is all too easy for employers to get it wrong.
Equality laws protect job applicants against discrimination, harassment and victimisation during recruitment.
Sara Booth, employment specialist at Shoosmiths LLP.
Even where a recruitment policy is applied equally to all candidates, those with a "protected characteristic" could be put at a particular disadvantage by it. This would amount to indirect discrimination unless the employer could show: that it was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim; that there is a good business reason for adopting the policy or procedure; and there is not a less discriminatory way of achieving this (an "objective justification").
The recruitment process
The first stage of any recruitment process should be to scope and develop the job description, ensuring it is objective and skills-based.
The equality implications of any requirements should be considered (for example a requirement that the role is full time could indirectly discriminate against women with childcare responsibilities and a requirement for a particular level of qualification or experience could be discriminatory on the grounds of age), and any potentially discriminatory requirements of the role should be able to be objectively justified.
Next, consider how the role will be advertised. Employers should aim to access the widest pool of talent and decide what media will reach the most diverse groups of potential applicants. An employer operating in an area with a large ethnic minority population could consider advertising in non-English lang