As we are all aware, recruitment and receiving applications from candidates who meet the “essential criteria” at the moment is harder than ever.
The latest official figures show vacancies have hit a record high whilst unemployment continues to fall. The latest data from the office for national statistics revealed the number of job vacancies in the three months leading up to December 2021 rose to a record high of 1,247,000, an increase of 462,000 on the three months leading up to March 2020 when the first lockdown came into effect.
Low unemployment and a high number of vacancies are posing challenges for employers’ recruitment and retention efforts. Unemployment has decreased to 4.1%, which while not lower than pre-pandemic, is very low by historical standards. Competition for candidates remains fierce as there are fewer people looking for each available job.
With there being fewer applicants the chances are you may come across the same application on more than one occasion. Ensuring you have a robust recruitment strategy to make certain you are protected while recruiting is essential.
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Whilst there is no obligation for you to advertise job vacancies, deciding against advertising can increase the risk of a discrimination claim. The safest approach is to ensure you advertise vacancies widely and avoid focusing your recruitment in one place.
There is no single Act governing recruitment and selection, but there are many regulations that have an impact on the recruitment process. The most significant is the Equality Act 2010. The Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against job applicants based on ‘protected characteristics’ including age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity.
Recently companies have tended to ask applicants for a CV and covering letter, but if you choose to use an application form it is important to avoid asking any questions that include the following:
- Any of the protected characteristics (mentioned above)
- Children and childcare arrangements
- Health record
Any personal details as mentioned above could lead to a risk of unlawful discrimination if factored into any processing or decision making.
It could be worth considering anonymising applications and using an unbiased recruitment process with HR support where possible.
A recent employment tribunal ruled against a Mr D Taheri who found that he had a “modus operandi” of applying for a job and bringing claims against employers if his applications were rejected. He would then seek out thousands of pounds in damages.
His claims were often brought about on the grounds of race, age and/or disability discrimination. Over the course of a year, he attempted to secure “at least” £485,000 of compensation from 17 different employers and made 10 separate claims of £25,000. One particular claim was for £50,000, for age discrimination after being turned down for a role. His claim was struck out after he failed to pay a deposit.
His aim was to put pressure on employers to enter into low-value settlements causing employers inconvenience, harassment and expense out of all proportion.
The good news is, if you are affected by someone making vexatious claims, you can apply for the case to be struck out or ask for a deposit order to be issued to the claimant. In this case, Mr Taheri refused to pay a number of deposit orders made against him so the cases were discontinued.
It is very important that you undertake shortlisting candidates with careful consideration as part of your recruitment process.
Shortlisting must be carried out in a fair and objective way, using the same set of selection criteria for each candidate. The criteria must relate to the requirements of the job and should be free from bias and any form of discrimination.
It is important that you only assess a candidate’s abilities based on the information they have given you and not make any assumptions.
Keeping clear records of any recruitment you carry out is very important. It is advisable that you stay up to date with inclusion and diversity training and ensure when making notes at an interview you know what things you can and can not write.
This year, more than ever, we need to focus on developing and retaining our existing staff to prevent or reduce skill and labour shortages. It is now becoming more than just ensuring you offer a competitive salary, and more about the quality of line management, the availability of different types of flexible working arrangements and the opportunities to develop new skills and progress.
If you need any support or help on the topic discussed in this article, please contact a member of our team who will be happy to help.
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