Interview Legal Pitfalls – Part Two

 

 

Employer Blog - February 2017

The Legal Pitfalls - 

Although it is natural to want to find out as much as possible during the interview, you don’t have a completely free rein. Legally, there are some questions that you can’t ask.

At all costs you must not be seen to discriminate; there are three main ways in which your questions could be discriminatory:

Sex and Sexuality 

Obviously, you should avoid sexist comments but you should also avoid questions such as “Are you planning to start a family?” If you don’t employ someone because they say that they are, you are being discriminatory and are liable for a claim against you.

Disability 

If the domestic staff candidate discloses a disability, you can’t use it as a reason not to employ them unless it is justified. Somebody who’s physically disabled and unable to walk more than medium distance obviously wouldn’t be suitable for a job as a guide rambling the gardens & hilly terrain of a large county estate, but there’s no reason why that person shouldn’t be employed in the: main-house; help-center; estate office or gift-shop. If it will only take small adjustments to enable them to do the job in question, you must make these adjustments.

Any questions relating to a disability must be carefully worded. They need to center on how their disability will not get in the way of the job rather than why it would exclude them.

Race

You can’t discriminate on grounds of race. This covers both ethnic background and country of origin. The chief pitfall is in stereotyping people.

As a general rule: Only ask questions which help you make a decision about whether you are going to employ them for the job and never ask a (discriminatory) question that helps you decide who not to employ.

Contractural Agreements

On a more general note, you should also be careful that you don’t make any promises in the interview that you can’t keep. If you offer someone a job along with all sorts of benefits, and they accept – you can’t then change the offer because you realise that you can’t afford it.

Be cautious with your wording and don’t promise the earth unless you’re going to give it. If you offer them the domestic staff job and they say, “Fantastic, I’ll start on Monday”, then it's a contractual agreement. Just because it’s verbal, doesn’t mean it’s not binding.”

 

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