Home - How to prevent unlawful discrimination when hiring staff

UpdatesJul 06, 2018

How to prevent unlawful discrimination when hiring staff

Under health and safety legislation throughout Australia, all employers have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their workers.

Under health and safety legislation throughout Australia, all employers have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their workers.

This includes taking appropriate measures to ensure employees aren’t discriminated against, even at the recruitment stage.

When hiring staff, anti-discrimination laws apply when you are:

It is unlawful to treat applicants less favourably because they possess one or more of the following protected attributes:

In 2014, Woolworths lost a legal claim for breaching Queensland’s anti-discrimination laws.

Mandatory fields in the company’s online application process meant that prospective employees were unable to apply for a position unless they provided their age and gender.

Under Queensland legislation, a person cannot be asked to provide information that may be used for discriminatory purposes unless it is ‘reasonably required’ for a non-discriminatory purpose.

While Woolworths conceded its mandatory fields could amount to discriminatory conduct, the company argued:

The Tribunal rejected these arguments and held that an applicant’s age and gender were not reasonably required and they could have simply been asked if they were over 18.

Woolworths was ordered to pay the jobseeker who raised the claim $5,000 in damages.

3 tips to avoid discrimination when recruiting:

Under federal legislation you are allowed to ask candidates about protected attributes if the information is needed to comply with workplace health and safety standards, however any staff responsible for selection and hiring must be properly trained and fully aware of anti-discrimination laws and guidelines.

Even if you use an employment agency, it is still your responsibility to make sure applicants aren’t unlawfully discriminated against during the recruitment process. Be certain that any agency involved is complying with equal opportunity practices and uses non-discriminatory selection methods.

If candidates are required to take a pre-employment test, ensure that the test relates specifically to the job criteria and performance requirements of the job being applied for.

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