There is no single Act governing recruitment and selection, but there are many Acts dealing with the employment relationship that have an impact on pre-employment issues as well. The most significant example is the Equality Act 2010.
The main legislation dealing with recruitment and selection are set out under the following headings.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against job applicants (and existing workers) because of a ‘protected characteristic,’ namely:
- gender reassignment
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
- marriage and civil partnership
- pregnancy and maternity
EU discrimination legislation
European Directives dealing with inequality and less favourable treatment which may have an impact on recruitment and selection in the UK include:
- Equal Treatment Framework Directive (2000/78/EC)
- Equal Treatment Amendment Directive (2002/73/EC)
- Race Directive (2000/43/EC)
- Directive implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services (2004/113/EC)
- Directive on equality between men and women in matters of employment and occupation (2006/54).
Other discrimination legislation
- Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2034)
- Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/1551)
- Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/93)
Legislation covering convicted offenders and the vetting and barring scheme for people working with children and vulnerable adults:
- Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
- Rehabilitation of Offenders 1974 (Exceptions Order) 1975
- Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
See How should employers deal with job applicants who have criminal convictions or spent convictions?
Eligibility to work in the UK
The main Act dealing with eligibility to work in the UK is the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. The following EU and national legislation may also be relevant:
- Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006
- Freedom of Movement Directive (2004/38/EC)
- Commonwealth Immigrants Acts 1962 and 1968
- Immigration Act 1971
- Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- UK Borders Act 2007
- Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009
See Should an employer ask a job applicant if they are a foreign national and if they can work in the UK?
The Data Protection Act 1998 puts restrictions on what data employers can collect and use in the recruitment and employment process, and defines certain types of information as ‘sensitive data.’
Not all of the legislation referred to applies to Northern Ireland (for example the Equality Act 2010). For a brief overview of the differences in employment law between Northern Ireland and Great Britain see our
More information is on recruitment and selection in Northern Ireland is available from the Labour Relations Agency.