Rules for the modern minefield

Employment legislation can be tricky but tread carefully and you'll survive

Published:  04 December, 2013

By Neil Pattemore

I was once told that business is easy - if only it wasn't for customers and staff. Unfortunately, most businesses cannot operate without both of these and as the other saying goes, 'there ain't nowt as queer as folk'. So if you are involved in employing staff, read on.

The key and fundamental issue is to be 100% clear about what the responsibilities are for the specific job, together with a clearly written job description and requirements for the candidate to fulfil. Once you have this in place, it is much easier to remain both focused and legal when assessing any new applicant, a trainee or when considering the promotion of an existing employee.

The Equality Act of 2010 made it unlawful to directly, or indirectly, discriminate against employees, job seekers or trainees because of their age. We are all familiar with the question of someone being too young to be capable of performing a job or indeed someone being too old, balanced by 'having the right experience', but it is unlawful to discriminate just because of age. In our rapidly changing, technology centric automotive industry, young people may bring new skills, whilst older employees may have more experience - making selection choices even harder! However, you cannot use age to:

? Discriminate directly, or indirectly, against anyone - unless it can be objectively justified

? Subject someone to harassment or victimise them related to their age

? Force an employee to retire unless it can be objectively justified

This is not strictly a legislative issue, other than if you do use psychometric testing [and if you do, we'd love to know about it - Ed], then it must be applied on a fair and equal basis. However, by using it, you may be able to identify the likely candidates more accurately and equally, discover characteristics which may support your ability to make better 'objective justifications'.

So, making sure you have the right people with the right skills is never easy but effective shortlisting, followed by effective assessment is the key. There is no 'one size fits all' solution but using the right 'tools', such as detailed job descriptions and requirements, allows a more objective process that should also help with ensuring compliance with the legal requirements.

? Disability Discrimination Act

? Employment Equality (Age) regulations 2006

? Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003

? Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003

? Equal Pay Act 1970

? Gender Recognition Act 2004

? Race Relations Act 1976

? Flexible Working (Eligibility, Companies & Remedies) Regulations 2002

? Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999

? Statutory Paternity Pay & Statutory Adoption Pay (General) Regulations 2002

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