Many of the things you need to bear in mind, from a legal perspective, when recruiting and appointing new staff are rooted in common sense. Other matters have been set out in law in order to protect candidate’s privacy or to ensure fairness and non-discrimination in recruiting. For example:
- It makes sense only to specify skills and experience that are actually needed for the role; if you were needlessly to ‘beef up’ the job requirements so that you might adversely affect people with a protected characteristic you could fall foul of discrimination law. Thus saying that you require a degree for a post that doesn’t in fact need one might adversely impact older people. (‘Protected characteristics’ are characteristics on the basis of which you are not allowed to discriminate against people: they include race, sex and disability, but there are several more as well and we’ll cover them soon.)
- You might need to make reasonable adjustments to the job description and the recruitment process to allow potentially suitable persons with disabilities to have an equal chance.
- It is not generally allowed to ask questions about health and disability during recruitment (though there are exceptions in certain circumstances), until after an offer is made.
- Remember, if you make an unconditional job offer and it is accepted, the contract of employment is formed. So, if you want the offer to depend on references, or some other condition, you must make the offer explicitly conditional.
- It is usually permissible to make an offer conditional on a satisfactory medical report or health questionnaire. But remember that the conditional offer must be made first. It is particularly important, if you are offering a job in person or over the phone, that you make it clear that it is conditional.
- An employment contract does not legally have to be in writing, but it avoids uncertainty if it is. In any case, employees must be given a ‘written statement of particulars’ of their employment within 2 months of starting their employment.