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Placing a job ad? Mind your words and take extra care to ensure they do not break the law when advertising job vacancies

Published 29 February 2016

Employers are being urged to take extra care to ensure they do not break the law when advertising job vacancies. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has drawn up a series of helpful guides to help employers advertise in line with equality legislation.

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Placing or publishing a discriminatory advert is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010. The Act protects individuals from discrimination because of sex, race, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, religion or belief, sexual orientation and age.

The EHRC revealed it had received more than 100 complaints about adverts, which potential applicants found to be discriminatory.

The equality watchdog warns using terms such as ‘handyman’ or ‘barmaid’ could fall foul of the law, and ‘maintenance worker’ or ‘bartender’ should be used instead.

Phrases such as young and dynamic, recent graduate or mature person should also be avoided.

An employer can require a job applicant or employee to have a particular protected characteristic where it is necessary for a particular role.

The examples provided in the EHRC guidance highlight that it may be lawful for a woman’s refuge to advertise for a female worker, if its female clients require particular care and attention or a safe environment that only a female worker can provide.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive of the EHRC, said: “It is important that everyone has a fair shot at the job they want.  Thousands of people may be losing out through misunderstanding and discrimination. We risk squandering talent and hampering economic growth if we don’t dispel widespread misunderstanding of the law.

“The high volume of complaints we receive each year shows employers and service providers have sometimes opened themselves to potentially costly legal action. This is usually as a result of confusion about what is and isn't permitted by equality legislation.”


Following is the link to the EHRC guidance regarding job ads and the press release titled unlawful job adverts jeopardise job opportunities says commission

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