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. A full list of legislation governing the law on recruitment in the UK is given at the end of these Q&As. The most significant example is the Equality Act 2010.


The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against job applicants (and existing workers) because of a ‘protected characteristic,’ namely:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity.

What can an employer safely stipulate in a job advertisement, job description and person specification?

Q: How can employers demonstrate that there is a genuine occupational requirement in certain job advertisements?

Q: Are employers legally obliged to advertise all job vacancies and must they advertise both internally and externally?

Q: Where should employers place job advertisements?

Q: Should employers use employee referral schemes as a method of recruitment?

Q: What should employers be aware of when providing application forms and collecting monitoring data?

Q: What should employers take into consideration when short listing job applicants?

Q: How should employers prepare for conducting a job interview?

Q: What questions should employers avoid asking during a job interview to minimise the risk of a discrimination claim?

Q: What can an employer do if a job applicant does not disclose her pregnancy during an interview?

Q: Can an employer require all job applicants to fill in a pre-employment medical questionnaire and insist they have medical checks?

Q: What should an employer do with CVs, interview notes and other documents obtained during the recruitment process and do job applicants have the right to see these documents?

Q: Should employers always appoint the highest qualified applicant for a job?

Q: Should an employer ask a job applicant if they are a foreign national and if they can work in the UK?

Q: What documentation can employers ask for relating to a job applicant’s immigration status?

Q: What are the penalties if an employer recruits illegal workers?

Q: How should employers deal with job applicants who have criminal convictions or spent convictions?

Q: What issues should employers be aware of when taking up references?

Q: What are the legal implications of providing feedback to unsuccessful job applicants?

Q: Is an employer bound by job offers made, or terms or conditions discussed, during a job interview?

Q: Is an employer bound by job offers which are conditional on satisfactory references or other conditions?

Q: Can an employer withdraw a job offer?

Q: What compensation may be claimed by a job applicant who fails to be appointed?

Q: What is positive action and how does it affect recruitment and selection?

Q: What should employers do to avoid disability discrimination during recruitment?

Q: Should an employer use Facebook or other social media to vet potential new employees?

Q: What is the legal status of an employee during a probationary period?

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