Skip to main content

Latest Releases

April 1, 2017

Recruitment Discrimination


If you are looking to expand your workforce, it is important to keep in mind what you are legally allowed to ask a prospective candidate. Employers should keep the following in mind:
Protected Characteristics
It is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of certain “Protected Characteristics”. These are: sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, age and/or disability.
Job Adverts
All forms of job adverts, whether in the form of emails, signs, adverts in newspapers, on the radio, TV or internet, are covered by the Equality Act 2010 which means that an employer must be mindful of the Protected Characteristics when advertising job vacancies. An employer must not discriminate in its arrangements for advertising jobs or through the actual content or wording of the job advert. For example, employers must not include statements which state that they cannot cater for disabled workers. Phrases such as ‘highly experienced’ or ‘recent graduate’ should only be used when these are requirements of the job. If they are not job requirements, employers could open themselves up to potential age discrimination claims.
Questions when recruiting: before making a job offer
Employers should not ask candidates whether they are married, single or in a civil partnership, have children, or plan to have children.
They also shouldn’t enquire about health or disabilities, unless: there are job requirements that can’t be met with reasonable adjustments; an employer is finding out if the applicant needs help to take part in an interview; or an employer is using ‘positive action’ to recruit a disabled person. Even if a candidate discloses information in interview, an employer must not ask questions in response unless they are directly relevant to the requirements of the job.
Employers can only ask for someone’s date of birth on an application form if the candidate must be a certain age to do the job. They should ask for this on a separate equality monitoring form.
Criminal convictions
An employer should only request information about an applicant’s criminal conviction if the information can be justified in terms of the role offered. Candidates don’t have to tell an employer about criminal convictions that are spent. An employer cannot refuse to employ someone because of their conviction/spent conviction - there are some areas exempt from this rule, eg schools.
Employing people with protected characteristics
An employer can choose a candidate with a Protected Characteristic over one who doesn’t if they’re both suitable and the employer thinks that people with that characteristic are underrepresented in the workforce, profession or industry or suffer a disadvantage connected to that characteristic. An employer must make decisions on a case by case basis and not because of a certain policy.
The employment team at Greenaway Scott are more than happy to assist with any clarification or further information regarding recruitment. Please contact us at



Return to index