Employers are facing a challenging time in recruitment at the moment, with a UK-wide labour shortage. If you are lucky enough to find some good candidates, it’s important to ensure that your recruitment process does not fall foul of employment law. This article provides some top tips to help you get it right.
We are all used to making reasonable adjustments for employees, but employers often forget to make reasonable adjustments at the point of interview. Offering flexibility for candidates coming to interview not only sets the tone in showing how you will treat your workforce but also ensures that you do not discriminate against candidates who (for example) are unable to make an early morning interview or cannot access a particular site.
Making it possible for all candidates to attend interview – whether in person or via a Zoom call – also means that as an employer you have the widest talent pool to draw from. Flexible interview arrangements may also mean that you will be able to engage those candidates who are the type of employees who do not call in sick to attend an interview.
When a vacancy is identified, the specific behaviours, skills, knowledge and characteristics that are essential for the role should also be clearly defined. This will help you to judge a prospective candidate against criteria that are objective, consistent and non-discriminatory.
The selection process must be as objective as possible and interview questions should be applied consistently for all candidates. Scores and answers to questions should be recorded so that if a decision is challenged you have the evidence to justify selection.
Ideally, those involved in the hiring process should be trained in equal opportunities and consideration should be given to training in avoiding unconscious bias.
Applicants should also be provided with a privacy notice explaining how you will process their personal data. Such data should only be retained if it could relate to any claims arising out of the recruitment process or the candidate asks you to retain their information for future vacancies.
Overtly discriminatory questions should be obvious to everyone but interviewers can sometimes accidentally stray into dangerous – and potentially discriminatory – territory in making what might otherwise be general conversation with a candidate.
Asking someone if they have children may be perfectly normal in everyday life but in an interview setting such questions, even if only asked as part of a general chat to settle a candidate’s nerves, must be avoided.
Planning your interview as an employer in the same was as you would prepare for it as the candidate can avoid any unintended diversions into topics that you are not allowed to ask a prospective employee about.
An interview is an opportunity to draw new talent into your business and to ensure that you flourish. It is also an opportunity to talk to someone who may talk to other people about your company.
Whether a candidate makes the cut or not, leaving them with a great impression of your business, extolling the virtues of working for you and making sure the candidate goes away feeling that they have had a good experience helps you and helps your company’s PR effort.
Part of this ‘sales process’ is ensuring they recognise the culture of the business they are joining which will hopefully be a supportive, diverse and inclusive one.
Making the offer
In a rush to secure their chosen candidate, employers often forget that the job offer is a golden opportunity to set out all the terms and conditions upon which the employee is being recruited. The terms and conditions set out the basis for the employment relationship and the earlier this can be communicated, the less likely there will be issues later. For this reason, we would always recommend you send out the employment contract with the written job offer. The job offer may set out some of the key terms but the contract then provides the important detail to manage the employment relationship and ensure compliance with employment law.
Always make a job offer conditional upon receiving satisfactory references and right to work checks and then make sure you promptly follow them up. Whilst the majority of references these days just confirm job role and employment dates they may still flush out any gaps in employment and a failure to respond to a reference request may be a red flag you need to explore further.
Vetting does not stop with recruitment! Always include a probation clause which usually has a shorter notice period so if it does not work out you can part company with your employee more quickly. It is essential that you monitor performance and conduct and provide feedback during the probation period. You should then carry out a final review on or before the period ends.
A probation period may on occasion be extended if there is reason to think that improvement is required and that the employee should be given additional time.
Keeping a close eye on performance and the expiry of probation periods is imperative as missing time limits can make dismissal more difficult and more expensive!
If you do need help with equality and diversity training or producing robust employment contracts then our team of experts can assist.
Call Graham Irons, Partner on 01604 258003 or by email to email@example.com.
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