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Hiring a new employee – Key Employment Law Issues

November 5, 2015


When you’re looking for someone new to join your business, you must be fair, consistent and above all not discriminate against anyone.

Start by preparing a job description and terms of employment such as pay (which must be at least the national minimum wage), and decide what skills, knowledge, experience, qualities and abilities are needed to do the job well. This should be your guide throughout the process. Consider the language you use and what skills are essential for the job. Don’t use words that suggest a person needs to be a particular age or sex, or that are unnecessary for the role. If the employee will be sitting down all day, do they need to be ‘active and energetic’, which may suggest a younger person?

The job advert should reflect the job description and skills requirement, and includes necessary qualities only. Consider where to advertise the job. A diverse workforce benefits a business. Use different mediums to try to reach as wide a pool of candidates as possible. Set out how a candidate can apply for the job. Is there an application form or should they submit a CV and covering letter? There is no right way provided that you are consistent and candidates compete on equal terms. You should also let potential candidates know what you will do with any data you collect during the application process. This can be done with a statement in the job advert.

Keep a written record of any decisions you make. This includes who to shortlist for interview and offer the job too. This can protect you if your decisions are challenged by a candidate.

Prepare for the interview by writing down the questions that want to ask based on the requirements of the position. Don’t ask personal questions that are irrelevant to the job, or make stereotypical assumptions. Don’t ask questions about a candidate’s health until you’ve made a job offer. Even after the offer is made, limit health questions to those relevant to the job to try to avoid a discrimination claim.

Keep a record of a candidate’s answers at interview and the questions they ask. Remember all these documents would have to be shown to a tribunal if a claim was made so don’t write down anything that is irrelevant or inappropriate.
While it is important to be consistent, you should also be flexible. If a candidate has a disability, you have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments so that the candidate has the same opportunity as candidates without the disability. This may mean being flexible on the application process, or the timing of an interview or where it is held.

Having selected a candidate, if the role is subject to conditions, make this clear in your offer. Conditions may include getting suitable references or checks on qualifications. You must also check that the employee has the right to work in the UK. Don’t make assumptions about this, ask every employee to provide evidence of their right.
Finally employees employed for at least one month should be given a statement of specified terms and conditions relating to their employment, within two months of their start date. Alternatively ask the employee to sign a contract of employment, which includes the terms that must be included in the statement, but can go further and protect your business too.

Louise Paull – LawBite Employment LawBrief. For further legal advice you can contact Louise via our online legal advice portal.