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Recruitment selection

Updating author: Lynda Macdonald


Once all the interviews are complete, the employer will have to make a firm decision on whom to recruit and whom to reject. All the information gleaned about all the candidates on the shortlist should be examined carefully in order to make the selection.

  • The core provisions of the Equality Act 2010, which applies to England, Wales and Scotland (but not to Northern Ireland), came into force on 1 October 2010.
  • The Equality Act 2010 largely consolidates and replaces previous anti-discrimination legislation, ie the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/1661), the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/1660) and the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/1031).
  • The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against job applicants (and existing workers) because of a "protected characteristic". The protected characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
  • In evaluating job applicants on a rating scale, it is important to apply points according to the degree of match between candidate and employee specification, rather than giving high ratings to those with the best qualifications or longest experience. (See Making the selection)
  • In making the final selection for employment, the main aim should be objectivity, and personal opinions, attitudes and prejudices must not be allowed to influence the choice. (See The danger of making assumptions)
  • It will be discriminatory and unlawful to reject a job applicant for employment because of sex, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership status, pregnancy, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability (unless rejection for employment because of a reason arising from disability can be justified), age (unless justified), or trade union membership. (See The implications of rejecting a suitable candidate)
  • Employers should take care not to discriminate unlawfully if using social media to assess the suitability of potential recruits. (See Using social media)
  • A complaint of discrimination can succeed at tribunal even if there is no absolute proof of discrimination, because tribunals work to the "balance of probabilities" test rather than requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt. (See Discrimination at selection)
  • Once a job applicant (or employee) has established facts from which a court or tribunal could conclude that discrimination occurred, the court or tribunal must uphold the complaint unless the employer can show that there is an alternative credible explanation for its treatment of the job applicant that has nothing to do with a protected characteristic. (See Discrimination at selection)
  • If a job applicant is pregnant and she is refused employment for reasons related to her pregnancy, the decision not to recruit her will be discriminatory and unlawful. (See The implications of rejecting a candidate on grounds of pregnancy)
  • It is unlawful to reject a job applicant for employment on the grounds of his or her age, unless this can be objectively justified. (See The implications of rejecting a candidate on grounds of age)
  • If a disabled applicant who is suitable for the job in terms of qualifications, skills and experience is rejected for employment for a reason "arising in consequence of" a disability, this will amount to disability discrimination and will be unlawful unless the rejection can be justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. (See The implications of rejecting a candidate on grounds of disability)
  • Subject to limited exceptions, it is potentially discriminatory on the ground of disability to ask a job applicant questions about his or her health or disability before making a job offer to that person. (See Questions about health or disability)
  • Employers are under a duty to consider whether there are any reasonable adjustments to working practices or premises that they could make to remove or reduce any substantial disadvantage that a disabled person would otherwise face if he or she were employed. (See The duty to make reasonable adjustments)
  • Employers can take specified positive action in connection with recruitment and promotion but only in limited defined circumstances. (See Positive action in recruitment and promotion)
  • Job applicants have the right not to be discriminated against on account of their union membership or non-membership. (See The implications of rejecting a candidate on grounds of trade union membership)
  • When selecting for a position that could be vulnerable to bribery risks, employers should ensure that selection procedures incorporate due diligence to mitigate that risk. (See The implications of the Bribery Act 2010)
  • Clear and objective records should be kept of job applicants focusing on the extent to which each candidate's qualifications, skills and experience matched up to the requirements defined initially in the employee specification. (See Keeping records)

Sector resources

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