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Keep your search for talent within the bounds of the law

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Employers are facing a challenging time at the moment in recruitment with a UK-wide labour shortage.  If you are lucky enough to find some good candidates, it is important to ensure that your recruitment process does not fall foul of employment law. Graham Irons, employment partner at regional law firm Howes Percival’s Northampton office, explains.

SELECTING the best person for the job is critical but you need a process that is objective, consistent and non-discriminatory. An employer should identify the specific behaviours, skills, knowledge and characteristics that are essential for the role. 

Selection criteria must be as objective as possible and interview questions should be applied consistently for all candidates. Scores and answers to questions should be recorded so that if a decision is challenged you have the evidence to justify selection. 

In making arrangements for interview or assessment, employers must remember their duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees.

Ideally, those involved in the hiring process should be trained in equal opportunities and consideration should be given to training in avoiding unconscious bias. 

Applicants should also be provided with a privacy notice explaining how you will process their personal data. Such data should only be retained if it could relate to any claims arising out of the recruitment process or the candidate asks you to retain their information for future vacancies.

Graham Irons, employment partner at Howes Percival

In a rush to snaffle their chosen candidate, employers often forget that the job offer is a golden opportunity to set out all of the terms and conditions upon which the employee is being recruited. For this reason, we would always recommend that you send out the employment contract with the written job offer. 

The job offer may set out some of the key terms but the contract then provides the important detail to manage the employment relationship and ensure compliance with employment law. 

Always make a job offer conditional upon receiving satisfactory references and right to work checks and then make sure you promptly follow them up. While the majority of references these days merely confirm job role and employment dates, they may still flush out any gaps in employment and a failure to respond to a reference request may be a red flag you need to explore further. 

Vetting does not stop with recruitment. Always include a probation clause which usually has a shorter notice period so if it does not work out you can part company with your employee more quickly. 

It is essential that you monitor performance and conduct and provide feedback during the probation period. You should then carry out a final review on or before the period ends. This is often missed, which makes dismissal more difficult and more expensive.

For help with equality and diversity training or producing robust employment contracts, the team of experts at Howes Percival can help. Call partner Graham Irons on 01604 258003 or email graham.irons@howespercival.com. 

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