York is committed to equality and diversity, with inclusivity and internationalisation as two of the core University objectives. By following the equality and diversity guidelines throughout the recruitment process, you will widen your candidate pool and attract applications from top quality candidates from diverse backgrounds.

It is important to gain an understanding of equality legislation before starting the recruitment and selection process. The key thing to remember is that all employees must be selected solely on the basis of merit.

This page highlights core principles of equality in recruitment which you may find useful to refer back to throughout the process. Remember, if you have any doubts or concerns, contact HR Services for advice. You can also learn more by completing the online diversity in the workplace course.

Protected characteristics

The Equality Act 2010 states that it is against the law to discriminate on the grounds of any protected characteristic, namely:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Maternity and pregnancy
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Below is a summary of the different types of discrimination relevant to the recruitment and selection process.

  • Direct discrimination: Treating a person less favourably than another because of their protected characteristic
  • Indirect discrimination: When a requirement, criterion or policy is applied to everyone, but as a result has an adverse impact on a group with a particular protected characteristic
  • Associative discrimination: Treating a person less favourably because they are associated with someone with a protected characteristic
  • Discrimination by perception: Treating a person less favourably because it is perceived that they have a protected characteristic

Disability discrimination

Under the Equality Act, someone is considered to be disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. There are three types of discrimination relating to disability.

  • Treating a person with a disability less favourably without justification.
  • Treating a person with a disability unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of their disability.
  • Failing, without justification, to make reasonable adjustments to enable a job applicant or employee to carry out a particular job.

Within the application you can request to know if a candidate needs any reasonable adjustments making to aid the recruitment process. Reasonable adjustments could include: an application form in a different format, an accessible interview room, special equipment for a selection test, etc.

You are not allowed to request information about a candidate’s health as part of the selection process. Health screening will take place once a conditional offer has been made. The purpose of health screening is to identify any reasonable adjustments that need to be made in order to help the successful individual once they have started work. These may include: specialised equipment, training, changes to the premises, supervision, flexible working patterns etc.

In the event that the screening identifies an issue in direct conflict with the role requirements then the University has the right to reconsider the offer.

Age discrimination

The Act protects people of all ages, so an applicant’s age should not be taken into account when recruiting. It is important to remember that the removal of a default retirement age in 2011 means that individuals will retire by their own choice and not that of the organisation. You must consider all applicants irrespective of their age.

Internal and external candidates

You should treat internal and external candiates the same irrespective of knowledge about their work.

Other factors

Here are a few final things to bear in mind in terms of equality and diversity. These scenarios are relatively rare so it is recommended that you talk to HR before taking these actions:

  • Positive action: This allows measures to be taken to encourage under-represented groups to apply for a particular job. For example in a department with a disproportionately high number of male employees you could state in the advert: “We would welcome applications from female candidates for this role.”
  • Genuine occupational requirements: This means that a person can be selected because they possess a certain characteristic that is a genuine requirement of the job. For example this policy could legitimately be used when recruiting a counsellor for the female Asian community.
  • Employing an apprentice or intern: The University has apprentice and intern rates but such staff should not be seen as a cheap source of labour. The role must be legitimately defined as an apprenticeship or internship.

Pensions legislation

It is prohibited to take any action or give any advice which could disrupt an employee’s, or prospective employee’s, membership of a pension scheme. This includes encouraging someone to opt out, leave or not join a pension scheme. Under the new legislation you are also prohibited from asking a person about their pension savings or future savings plans at any stage of the recruitment process.

Failing to comply with the legislation can make you personally liable and at risk of large fines or imprisonment. Remember to be cautious when discussing pension options, and contact the Pensions Team should you have any concerns.