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Discrimination, what is it and how to avoid it?

As an employer, you need to be aware of discrimination, what forms it takes and how to avoid it. Many only think of discrimination at the initial hiring period when choosing one candidate over another.  However, even once your new recruit has been hired, you need to be careful not to discriminate against certain individuals. You may not even realise you are doing it, but you may treat somebody differently when it comes to task allocation, possible promotion, company benefits and even redundancy.

Discrimination in its most basic form is treating somebody less favourably than another due to a personal characteristic.  Most commonly, these characteristics are gender, religion, age and sexual orientation.

The most frequent time when companies discriminate against candidates is within the initial job advert. It is against the law to state that you can’t cater for certain employees, for example, those with a disability. However, it is ok to state certain personal traits if it is a requirement for the job role and you have evidence to support this.

The next problem you might face could be at the interview stage.  In the last few years it has become against the law to ask candidates certain personal questions such as are they married, do they have children or do they plan on having children.  Whilst you may think it’s just a nice getting to know you question, it can subliminally affect your judgement about somebody.  However, if they offer the information without being asked then you have done nothing wrong.

You may think that by using a recruitment agency the onus is on them to not discriminate, but if you’re the hirer then you must check all adverts and recruitment processes that represent your business.

As well as the most common types of discrimination, there are also less direct forms that you may not even be aware you are doing. This is known as indirect discrimination and can occur when you discriminate against somebody by offering working conditions or rules that directly affect a particular group of people.  For example, working hours of 9 till 6.30 would discriminate against mothers needing childcare, as most nurseries close at 6pm.

If you like to find out more about discrimination within the workplace and how to avoid it then please contact a member of our recruitment agency team on 0330 111 5353.

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