Equality and Human Rights Commission publishes new guidance on advertising jobs and services

diversity-typographyThe Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has reported that it has received more than a hundred complaints about discriminatory adverts in just over a year. Complaints about adverts which discriminate against older workers or on the basis of sex were the most common but people are also being prevented from having a fair chance when it came to work opportunities because of their disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other characteristics, according to evidence gathered by the EHRC.

Examples of complaints received include:
• Sex or age discrimination by seeking ‘young’ or female workers, where this was not a necessary requirement for the job. This included an advert for a ‘Saturday boy’ to work in a garage, and a bar looking for a ‘part-time shot girl’.
• Age discrimination by a recruitment agency stating that those over 45s need not apply.
• Race discrimination by recruitment agencies advertising solely in foreign languages – such as vacancies for taxi drivers only advertised in Polish; or conversely restricting a general warehouse position to UK passport-holders.
• Sexual orientation discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation when casting agencies were asked to supply only homosexual applicants to work as extras in a television programme featuring a Gay Pride story.

In response, the EHRC has published guidance for those who place and publish adverts to help them advertise without breaching equality legislation. The guidance includes a short guide “Advertising. What equality law means for advertisers and publishers”, a checklist and a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs). They are all written in plain English and are essential reading for anyone involved in recruitment.

If you need advice on potential discrimination pitfalls in advertising, please contact Helen Kay on or .

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