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Determining the needs of the job

Updating author: Lynda Macdonald


To ensure a successful outcome to the process of recruitment, it is essential first to clarify the key duties and responsibilities inherent in the job, and to formulate a picture of the type of person who could most effectively perform the job in terms of background and skills. Recruitment and selection therefore needs to be planned thoroughly, applying a methodical and objective approach.

  • 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 consolidated and replaced 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.
  • The recruitment process should begin with the formulation of a clearly written job description that describes accurately the duties and responsibilities inherent in the job. (See Writing job descriptions)
  • The job description should neither overstate nor understate the responsibilities and requirements of the post. (See Writing job descriptions)
  • An employee specification should be written in order to define the key characteristics of the candidate who could most effectively fulfil the job role. (See Preparing an employee specification)
  • The employee specification should be written objectively and should focus on the experience, skills and (where appropriate) qualifications that are necessary (and/or desirable) for the effective performance of the job. (See Preparing an employee specification)
  • If inappropriate criteria or conditions are attached to the job or to the person being sought, this could constitute indirect discrimination unless the particular criterion or condition is capable of being justified. (See Circumstances in which criteria and conditions can be discriminatory)
  • Employers should not specify upper or lower age limits as part of the recruitment process unless the particular age restrictions can be objectively justified as being appropriate and necessary for the job in question. (See Circumstances in which criteria and conditions can be discriminatory)
  • The Equality Act 2010 permits employers, in limited circumstances, to operate an exception to the general principle of equality and apply to a post a requirement to have a particular protected characteristic. (See Occupational requirements).