Johnston Withers

5 Tips to Ensure Discrimination-Free Recruitment.

Published on Wednesday 25 September, 2019 by Patrick North

It is important that employers consider anti-discrimination laws when recruiting employees or contractors to ensure they are not liable to a discrimination claim.

The South Australian Equal Opportunity Act 1984 prohibits employers or principals from discriminating against potential employees when recruiting based on:

  • sex;
  • gender identity;
  • sexual orientation;
  • intersex status;
  • race;
  • disability (including part-disability or future disability);
  • age;
  • marital or domestic partnership status, or the identity of a spouse or partner;
  • pregnancy, association with a child or caring responsibilities; and
  • religious appearance or dress.

While most organisations do not set out to intentionally discriminate during the recruitment process, there are risks of discrimination occurring inadvertently or even unconsciously. For example, advertising for a ‘recent graduate to join a young, energetic team’, or for a ‘native Japanese speaker’ could be seen as discriminatory and in breach of the Act. It is important that organisations consider these risks to avoid being liable for discrimination.

Tips to ensure discrimination free recruitment johnston withers lawyers

Here are our 5 tips to avoid discrimination in recruitment and contracting:

1. Develop a recruitment policy

The policy should state your commitment to fairness and compliance with anti-discrimination laws in your workplace.

2. Think about your job advertisement

Determine what the inherent requirements of the role are and list only these requirements in the job advertisement. The requirements should correspond to the tasks that will be performed by the employee or contractor.

Also consider the wording used in the job advertisement. It may be useful to have the job advertisement read by someone who can ensure that it does not contain any discriminatory terms.

3. Avoid requiring personal information

Information such as birth date, age or gender are generally not relevant to the inherent requirements of a role and taking these details into consideration could cause bias, or the appearance of bias, in determining whether or not to employ or contract a person. For example, where a role requires that a person be over the age of 18, applicants should simply be asked to state that they are over 18, rather than to state their precise age.

Also, requiring applicants to provide a photograph creates a similar risk, as appearance is generally irrelevant to the requirements of most roles (with exceptions for example, if it is a modelling job).

4.Consider your selection criteria

Differentiate between essential and desirable selection criteria and make your decision about which applicant to interview or hire based on the experience, qualifications and skills against the selection criteria. Record the reasons for your decision.

When you contact an applicant’s referees, ensure you only ask them questions relating to the selection criteria.

Ensure as far as possible, that there is diversity in your selection panel.

5. Ensure parity in terms and conditions of employment

It is important to offer employment or a contract to the successful applicant(s) on the same or comparable terms and conditions to existing employees with similar experience and qualifications who are performing the same role.

Why Trust Johnston Withers Lawyers as your Employment Lawyer?

At Johnston Withers Lawyers, our employment lawyers have experience in providing advice to employees and employers on recruitment policies. If you need advice or direction from a lawyer, please contact Patrick North on (08) 8231 1110 or get in touch online.



Patrick North

Practice leader: Employment and industrial law

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