Interviewing Skills Training Course: The Equality Act 2010

Our one-day interviewing skills course is tailored for delegates who would like to gain better interviewing skills and learn how to conduct successful interviews for choosing the right employee(s). Our Interviewing course will show candidates how to; gain winning interview skills; give better interviews; be a better interviewer and learn how to interview effectively. As well as improving interviewing skills, delegates will also learn recruitment and employment law.

The new Equality Act 2010 and its effect on interviewing

The Equality Act becomes law in October 2010 and although not all of it will be implemented immediately it is important that employers understand how it will affect your organisation’s current practices and what you need to do to be on the right side of discrimination law.

Because of criticism of certain confusions caused by current discrimination law, the Equality Act attempts to simplify elements of it so that both employer and employee are able to recognise discrimination, pre-empt it and effectively eradicate it. It harmonises and replaces previous legislation (such as the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) and ensures consistency in what you need to do to make your workplace a fair environment and to comply with the law.

How the Equality Act affects interviewing and recruitment?

If you are recruiting someone to work for you, equality law applies to you whatever the size of your organisation or whatever sector you work in.

Question – Are you discriminating without realising it?

Which of the following could be classed as discrimination? Answers at the end of this newsletter.

  1. The job you have advertised requires travelling to lots of different places to see clients. You quote on a job advert that the successful applicant has to be able to drive.
  2. You would like to see more women in your workplace so you screen applications to ensure that you have a short list of women only – to ensure that a woman is appointed to the post?
  3. You refuse employment to a turban-wearing Sikh who refuses to wear a safety helmet on a construction site?
  4. You decide you’ll ask all applicants how many sick days they have had off in the last 12 months.
  5. An applicant states that they had a sex change operation 8 years ago. They are the best candidate for the job but you fear that some of the people in the department they will be working with wouldn’t feel comfortable with them so you reject their application.
  6. You decide not to employ a person who uses a wheelchair because they have to work on the second floor of the building and you don’t have a lift.
  7. An employer rejects someone for a management job just because they are 25 years old and much younger than the people they would be managing.

In this newsletter we have tried to lay out what the new act affects and how to avoid the claim of discrimination being levied at your organisation. The Act covers many areas of recruitment and it is important that potential employers review the following aspects of recruitment:

  • Thinking about what the job involves and what skills, qualities and experience a person will need to do it
  • Job adverts
  • Application forms and CVs
  • Shortlisting applicants to meet or interview
  • Interviews, meetings and tests
  • Recruiting women who are pregnant or on maternity leave
  • Equality good practice
  • Using positive action to recruit a wider range of people
  • Using monitoring forms during recruitment

We won’t be covering all of these in this newsletter but if you are unsure or require information about the wider aspects of the act such as disciplinary procedure, pay and working conditions, training, development or working hours then you will find more information at the end of this newsletter.

What does The Equality Act protect?

At the moment, there are several different laws to protect people from discrimination. We are afforded protection if we fall under the category of Protected Characteristics; those which are relevant to the act are listed below. You cannot discriminate against someone on grounds of:

  • race
  • sex
  • sexual orientation (whether being lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual)
  • disability (or because of something connected with their disability)
  • religion or belief
  • being a transsexual person (transsexuality is where someone has changed, is changing or has proposed changing their sex – called ‘gender reassignment’ in law)
  • having just had a baby or being pregnant
  • being married or in a civil partnership (this applies only at work or if someone is being trained for work)
  • age (this applies only at work or if someone is being trained for work)

The Equality Act 2010 simplifies the current laws and puts them all together in one piece of legislation. Also, it makes the law stronger in some areas. Most of the Equality Act will start to apply in October 2010 and this newsletter covers the main changes coming into effect then and the changes/adjustments that must be made to comply with the Act.

Among the key provisions affecting interviewing and recruitment are the following:

Pre-employment health questionnaires: This new provision prohibits employers asking job applicants questions about their health and whether they have a disability.

Discrimination by association or based on perception: The ban on discrimination by association will be extended to protect spouses, partners, parents and carers who look after a disabled person or older relative from discrimination.

How this affects the interview

Unlawful discrimination can take a number of different forms:

  • You must not treat a person worse than someone else just because of a protected characteristic (this is called direct discrimination). One of the most obvious infringements of this is asking someone if they were thinking of having kids in the next few years.
  • You must not do something to someone in a way that has a worse impact on them and other people who share a particular protected characteristic than on people who do not have that characteristic. Unless you can show that what you have done, or intend to do, is objectively justified, this will be indirect discrimination. ‘Doing something’ can include making a decision, or applying a rule or way of doing things. You insist that all job applicants must be able to drive even though the role can be carried out using public transport.
  • You must not treat a disabled person unfavourably because of something connected to their disability where you cannot show that what you are doing is objectively justified. This could apply if you turn down an applicant who has mobility disability even though this doesn’t directly affect their ability to do the job.
  • You must not treat a person worse than someone else because they are associated with a person who has a protected characteristic; e.g. you don’t employ someone because they are a carer for someone with a disability.
  • You must not treat a person worse because you incorrectly think they have a protected characteristic (perception discrimination) e.g. you think that someone looks younger than they are so you don’t employ them.

In addition, to make sure that disabled people have the same access, as far as is reasonable, to everything that is involved in getting and doing a job as a non-disabled person, you must make reasonable adjustments.

If an applicant asks for information about the job and the application form (if there is one) in an alternative format which they require because they are a disabled person then you must provide this, so long as it is a reasonable adjustment – and it is likely to be.

If an applicant needs reasonable adjustments to participate in any interview or assessment process, then you must make them. When you assess an applicant’s suitability for the job you must take account of how reasonable adjustments could enable them to do the job.

If, after taking reasonable adjustments into account, they would not be the best person for the job, you do not have to offer it to them. But if they would be the best person with the reasonable adjustments in place, you must offer them the job. In any event, it would make sense for you to do this, as you want the best person for the job.

Tip for avoiding discrimination

Don’t ask questions which may suggest that you have already decided they are the wrong person for the job because of their protected characteristics. For example, saying ‘Don’t you think you’re a bit young for this job?’

Ask questions which relate to the job.

It is a myth that equality law says you must ask everyone exactly the same questions. There is no reason for you not to ask about things that are different for a particular candidate, or follow up an applicant’s answers with questions that relate to what they have just said.

However, you should be focusing on the same broad subject areas with each applicant. This is because otherwise you may be applying different standards to different applicants based on their protected characteristics, and this might lead to unlawful discrimination.

No-one else can ask these questions on your behalf either. So you cannot refer an applicant to an occupational health practitioner or ask an applicant to fill in a questionnaire provided by an occupational health practitioner before the offer of a job is made (or before inclusion in a pool of successful applicants) except in very limited circumstances, which are explained next.

The point of stopping employers asking questions about health or disability is to make sure that all job applicants are looked at properly to see if they can do the job in question, and not ruled out just because of issues related to or arising from their health or disability, such as sickness absence, which may well say nothing about whether they can do the job now.

You can ask questions once you have made a job offer or included someone in a group of successful candidates. At that stage, you could make sure that someone’s health or disability would not prevent them from doing the job. But you must consider whether there are reasonable adjustments that would enable them to do the job.

Answers to the earlier quiz

ALL of the previous examples could be classed as discrimination under current UK law. For more information refer to the following websites. Remember these laws are there to protect us ALL and to give us a fairer playing field in all aspects of employment.

For Further Information

For more information these websites will give you the answers you are looking for.

Worth making sure you know ACAS guidelines as these are the guys who set out the recommendations by which UK employment tribunals base their judgements

This is the website for the Equality and Human Rights Commission. This is probably the most comprehensive of all information available on the web for clear and informative information regarding the Equality Act.

For the question about Sikh’s and Personal Protective Equipment – this gives the rationale behind that question and more.

Interviewing Skills Course

This course will cover the practical skills needed for successful interviewing and our reputation for effective recruitment training has been endorsed by many delegates. Those who have attended the course have described it as being productive, informative and focused. It allows delegates to understand the stages of carrying out interviews and shows them how to conduct an effective interview so that they are able to attract the best candidates and choose the best person for the job. We guarantee to deliver the best employment strategies, tips and techniques for better interviewing and recruiting skills.

Course Dates

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Who will benefit from the course?

Our course will cover the practical skills needed to make recruitment interviews productive and focused. It will allow delegates to understand the stages of the recruitment process and how to conduct an effective interview so that they are able to attract the best candidates and choose the best person for the job.

Our courses allow all staff to benefit from enhanced interviewing skills. The types of delegate we have trained previously are:

  • Directors and senior managers
  • Sales and fundraising staff
  • Local government employees
  • Managers, department heads, team leaders and supervisors
  • Technical and academic team members

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