In relation to a recent article on BBC News regarding a County Down grammar School, a High Court Judge has ruled the school’s admissions process unlawful. The school’s admissions criteria was found to indirectly discriminate against children with origins outside of Northern Ireland.
This Judgement has highlighted the importance of careful consideration of any criteria which may indirectly discriminate. This type of criteria has been extremely common in the education system for some time. This case will likely have wide reaching consequences for admissions processes. It is also a stark reminder to employers to consider their processes for recruiting staff and any criterion they are using.
The job market is currently very buoyant and there is a great deal of recruitment going on, which is great to see. Please find some top tips outlined below regarding safe and effective recruitment for your business, to help you avoid legal pitfalls and the bad press that can go with them:
- Have a consistent application process and avoid using any potentially discriminatory language / criteria in any advertisement or job description.
- In advance, prepare set interview questions to ensure consistency and to avoid any unfair or discriminatory questions.
- Make and retain good records including any interview notes and copies of communications with applicants.
- Invest in training staff who will be conducting interviews and selecting successful candidates so that there is good technique, fairness and to ensure staff are aware of any potentially discriminatory questions or remarks which should be avoided.
- Stick to timescales, remember that the applicant may have other interviews. If you tell them you will revert by the end of the week, do so, even if it is just to let them know the final decision has been delayed by a few days. This shows you are a reliable and professional employer. You don’t want to miss out on a preferred candidate due to poor communication!
- Ensure compliance with Northern Irish monitoring legislation. This requires registered employers to have all applicants complete a monitoring questionnaire.
- Implement a consistent and diligent approach to any requests for feedback from applicants. Remember today’s unsuccessful candidate may be next year’s dream candidate! You also want to ensure any feedback response does not contain anything which could be found to be discriminatory.
- Maintain a good suite of onboarding HR documents, such as good offer letters, contracts and handbooks when appointing the successful candidate. It is important these are drafted by a good legal team to ensure accuracy, legal compliance and appropriate business protection.
This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. If you need any advice on any recruitment or other employment issues please do not hesitate to contact our Employment team.